November 23rd, 2015

How computer monitoring can help government stay honest

13334048894_001d3e53d1_zComputer monitoring software can not only prevent data breaches, misappropriation of company or government property or misuse of sensitive information. It can be a key tool in identifying disgruntled or unprofessional employees.

A great example can be found in a political scandal in Canada that shows provincial civil servants were deleting emails, didn’t properly respond to freedom of information requests and then lied about it under oath.

Yes, even in traditionally rules-abiding, by-the-books Canada, government workers can act badly (with or without the direction of their political masters). Tried-and-trusted computer monitoring software is an obvious preventive solution – and it’s long past time for these government agencies to act on it. Using computer monitoring software compatible with any device or operating system, managers can ensure that even the most dishonest civil servants will be kept on their toes.

How does computer monitoring software help them?

First, it gives IT managers and administrators a simple birds’-eye- dashboard view of what’s going on in various teams or even in different departments. If there’s already heat coming from higher-ups in the civil service or pressure from media to look into problems, you need a way to look at what’s on employees’ screens without looking over their shoulder – because if someone’s doing something wrong, they have an incentive to try to hide it. Manual monitoring is just too clumsy.

But the best part of installing computer monitoring software in a system is that it can provide benefits – as many of our clients have noted – even if it’s not turned on, by keeping employees on their best behavior. Workers who know 100 percent that they are being monitored are generally smart enough to avoid sharing confidential information, leaking to the press, deleting essential data that should be kept around or a dozen other things – because they can know with a good degree of certainty that they’ll be caught. Again, this also applies to elected officials, who may have even bigger incentives (eg. lobbyists showing up with big checks or political opponents hoping to capitalize on an error) to break the rules so they can realize their ambitions, if only temporarily. Obviously, these systems do need to be turned on – but the deterrence factor is very real.

It might be better if we didn’t even need ‘Freedom of Information’ legislation for citizens to obtain the records that they have a right to see, but this is the world we live in, where politicians are leery about handing over details of backroom deals or even public legislative processes. Ultimately, transparency is essential for the democratic process – and with proper computer monitoring, we aim to see fewer scandals and better, more orderly government overall (an ideal that is not limited to governments north of the 49th parallel).

Photo Credit: Yuri Samoilov