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DWP goes old school - loses paper docs, hangs onto e-data

Accidental paperless office

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The Department for Work and Pensions has reported data leaks from paper but none from electronic devices over the year.

Its resources accounts for 2009-10 (pdf) reveal that in April 2009 it lost paper documents from its offices which contained the names, dates of birth, national insurance numbers and bank details of 145 people.

But the DWP reported no losses from electronic devices. This compares with one minor incident the previous year when an unprotected electronic storage device containing personal details, with the potential to affect eight people, went missing.

"The department takes most seriously its statutory responsibilities for the protection of personal data under the Data Protection Act," said a DWP spokesperson.

"Over the last few years, the department has significantly improved its controls relating to the security of information, and given the scale of the department's operations welcomes the continuing relatively small number of such incidents."

The resource accounts also outline an incident in June 2009 when the department sent the wrong information to the BBC about people eligible for assistance under the Digital Switchover Help Scheme.

About 65,000 people were incorrectly sent a letter telling them that they were eligible for help.

"Following the incident, improved management controls were put in place so as to prevent recurrence," a DWP spokesperson told GC News.

On IT spending, the document says the department is reviewing projects, both ongoing and planned, with a value of between £1m and £50m. The department's investment committee will make the final decisions on whether the projects are justified.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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