Daylight Dawns in IT, Hopefully!
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:30AM
Bill Barclay

The following exchange of emails could be regarded as a metaphor for the level of managerial incompetance within TCDC (Yes David - another "hate" blog!)  In this instance in failing to meet requirements regarding the provision of legally required access to public documents that has verged on contempt over four long years. 

The emails speak for themselves. Please note that this is in no way a criticism of acting IT Manager Bernie Goedhart who appears to be doing his best to deal with this long-standing mess:

To: Laurna White (laurna.white@tcdc.govt.nz)
Subject: TCB Agenda

Laurna

The TCB Agenda PDF for yesterday’s meetings was unloadable until yesterday, and is now again unavailable (‘unloadable’)

Can you please look into this for me – it is just another episode in the saga of accessing public documents on the website that appears beyond redemption  – or at least that is how it appears from the outside.

It would really be appreciated if some effort could be put into overcoming this problem by the IT people.

Many thanks

Bill   

Hi Mr Barclay

We have resolved the issue that caused problems with the TCB agenda so it can be downloaded. The Council's upgraded Firewall, introduced as part of the effort to resolve security issues earlier this year, was blocking the download after it decided that there was executable code within the file. Given it was a PDF file we were surprised to find this rule was triggered by a series of characters within the PDF file that made the firewall software believe this had executable code within the document.

The rule is part of a number of standard rules that are applied when configuring a ModSecurity type firewall. We have disabled this rule as we can see no value in applying the test on out-going files.  

If you have any other problems we would be pleased to receive feedback so that we can investigate them and provide a more robust platform for Council's customers.

Regards

Bernie Goedhart                                                                                                                                 IT IT Manager TCDC

Thank you Bernie.

What you may not have been told is that this problem goes back at least four years – that is how long I have been complaining about access to agendas and other docs.

If necessary, I could give you chapter and verse the e-mails and phone calls over that time asking for the problem to be dealt with – to no avail – just excuse after excuse - ask Daleen!

Having said that, it has improved (but not totally!) this year with the advent of the PDFs.

Thank you for the explanation regarding the current problem – a refreshing change!  One can only hope that this will be the end of it.

As you may well understand, with only two days’ notice of agendas in particular it is extremely frustrating, and creates the perception of deliberate denial of access.

Again, many thanks.

Bill

Hi Bill

Yes I understand the frustration related to accessing agendas. As you pointed out one of the problems was the Twentyfour application that was being used to server up files from our internal network to customers on the Internet. We replaced this application two months ago with one developed in-house using open-source code and that helped. The firewall rule issues was obscure and did not help.

The team leader for the Governance Team will ensure that access to files is checked from an externally linked device as each agenda is put onto the web site. The current testing was from internal devices. That process did not validate that the agenda was available to external parties so that should help with reliability as well.

I can understand your concern around the perception of deliberate denial of access when there is such a tight timeframe and we will do our best to continue to improve the level of service.

Regards

Bernie

 

 


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