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Cobell v. Norton

February 5, 2002

ELOISE PEPION COBELL, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
GALE NORTON, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alan L. Balaran Special Master

SECOND STATUS REPORT OF THE SPECIAL MASTER REGARDING THE SHUTDOWN AND RECONNECTION AND/OR RESUMPTION OF COMPUTER SYSTEMS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Background

On November 14, 2001, the Special Master filed the Report and Recommendation of the Special Master Regarding the Security of Trust Data at the Department of the Interior ("Special Master Report") chronicling Interior's failure to safeguard and secure individual Indian trust data. In response, the Court ordered defendants: (1) to "immediately disconnect from the Internet all information technology systems that house or provide access to individual Indian trust data"; and (2) to "immediately disconnect from the Internet all computers within the custody and control of the Department of the Interior, its employees and contractors, that have access to individual Indian trust data." Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO") dated December 5, 2001, at 2.

On December 17, 2001, the Court entered a second order that, in part, preserved the injunctive relief granted by the TRO and, in part, offered Interior several alternative methods by which it could reconnect and/or resume the operations of its technology systems. The Court held, in relevant part, that Interior,

(1) "may operate any information technology system that is not connected to the Internet, . . . following submission of reasonable assurances to the Special Master, and Interior shall not reconnect any information technology system to the Internet without the concurrence of the Special Master" (Order at 5) ("Provision 1");

(2) "may reconnect to the Internet any information technology system that does not house individual Indian trust data and that does not provide access to individual Indian trust data seventy-two (72) hours after providing actual notice with appropriate documentation to the Special Master and Plaintiffs' counsel or immediately upon concurrence of the Special Master" (Order at 5-6) ("Provision 2");

(3) "may reconnect to the Internet, for specified periods, any information technology system that houses or provides access to individual Indian trust data, for the limited purposes of" (a) "testing the security of the information technology systems," or (b) "performing those functions necessary to receive, account for, and distribute trust funds of appropriated funds, or to provide other necessary services." Under this provision, Interior would provide "at least seventy-two (72) hour notice" with "appropriate documentation" and shall provide its plan for the Special Master's review and inquiry (Order at 6) ("Provision 3"); and

(4) "may reconnect to the Internet any information technology system that houses or provides access to individual Indian trust data" upon "actual notice" with "appropriate documentation" which shall be given "at least seventy-two (72) hours before reconnecting" and shall provide its reconnection plan to the Special Master for his review and inquiry. Order at 7 ("Provision 4"). December 17 Order at 5-8. *fn1

The Court further ordered the Special Master to verify compliance with the December 17 Order, as necessary, by interviewing Interior personnel or contractors and by conducting site visits "wherever technology systems or individual Indian trust data is housed or accessed. Id. at 7. Finally, the Court provided that the order be vacated once it "has determined that Interior Defendants are in full compliance" and "Interior's relevant information technology systems are in compliance with the applicable standards outlined in OMB Circular A-130." Order at 8. *fn2 Id. at 8.

Requests Submitted Prior to the Filing of the First Report On January 15, 2002, the Special Master filed the First Status Report of the Special Master Regarding the Shutdown and Reconnection of Computer Systems at the Department of the Interior ("First Status Report"). The First Status Report discussed Interior's efforts to reconnect or recommence operation of those information technology ("IT") systems impacted by the December 17 Order. Interior, at that time, had requested that the Special Master consider the reconnection and/or resumption of operation of : (1) the Integrated Resources Management System ("IRMS") (December 17, 2001); (2) the Social Services Automated System ("SSAS") (December 17, 2001); (3) the Law Enforcement Watch Office (December 21, 2001); (4) the Office of Surface Mining ("OSM") systems (December 21, 2001); and (5) the Mineral Management Service ("MMS"). *fn3

On December 19 and 21, 2001, respectively, the Special Master approved Interior's request to recommence operation of SSAS and the Law Enforcement Watch Office. On January 22, 2002, approved Interior's request to reconnect OSM to the Internet and to recommence operation of IRMS.

Second Status Report.

As in the First Status Report, this Second Status Report will detail the posture of Interior's outstanding requests. In addition, it will address Interior's January 31, 2002 representations before the Court regarding the ...


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