How Two Agencies Handled Expired Credentials After Historic Shutdown

selinofoto/Shutterstock.com

Despite agencies reopening, some feds weren’t able to get right back to work due to expired PIV cards and passwords.

Many furloughed federal employees returning from the 35-day shutdown came back to a mess—in some cases literally. And for many feds, being on hiatus due to a lapse in appropriations resulted in a lapse in their security credentials, including personal identity verification, or PIV, cards and log-in passwords.

The longest federal government shutdown in history began on Dec. 22 and lasted through Jan. 25, for a total of 35 days. During the shutdown, furloughed federal employees were not allowed to log in to their work accounts—for some triggering a reset due to inactivity—and many saw the security credentials linked to their PIV cards expire—locking them out of systems.

Some agencies were prepared. The day before employees returned to work at the Food and Drug Administration, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb posted a thread on Twitter noting that IT and security issues were expected.

In his thread, Gottlieb said FDA would have tables set up in one of the cafeterias to help with re-entry issues, including “IT issues, badging and other shutdown-related matters.” The FDA set up IT kiosks to let employees self-serve and established mobile device reset stations for people having issues logging into their agency phones.

The agency also made the decision to extend certification of PIV cards that expired during the shutdown to Feb. 1, giving employees one week to get reauthorized.

That should have been plenty of time so long as the number of employees affected wasn’t too large, according to Jeremy Grant, managing director of technology business strategy at Venable and former senior executive adviser on identity issues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Grant recalled needing to reauthorize his credentials while at NIST, which entailed a trip to the badging office and a few minutes at a computer console.

“Normally this is not a big deal—you schedule it well in advance of the cert’s expiring,” he told Nextgov. “But a 30-plus-day shutdown is going to create a backlog.”

In most instances, agencies renew PIV credentials on a rolling basis, based on the time of hire, rather than doing an entire program, office or agency at the same time every year.

“The good news is that certs are good for a few years—and are tied to time of issuance—so it should be a small portion of an agency’s employees,” Grant said. “But the backlog is no doubt going to take a day or two to clear, and cause some disruptions.”

Security and IT officials at the Interior Department experienced just such a backlog but knew it would be coming, according to meeting notes reviewed by Nextgov. The designated IT furlough team met daily by video conference throughout the shutdown to compare notes on ongoing issues and plan for problems they knew were coming, including expired PIV cards and passwords.

In total, 1,032 Interior employees’ PIV cards expired during the shutdown, with an additional 807 impacted by not being able to complete some part of the process, such as enrollment, pickup or activation, for a total of 1,839 employees affected of the department's nearly 70,000 staff, the logs show.

The security team initially extended credentials for all cards set to expire between Dec. 22—when the shutdown began—and Jan. 31—several days after the shutdown had ended. However, anticipating a backlog, officials decided to open the aperture further to Feb. 15. Any employee whose credentials expired or will expire within that window received a waiver to log on to the network without a PIV card until their credentials are reauthorized.

The furlough team also compiled a list of those who would be affected by expiring PIV cards, sent them emails with instructions for when they returned and distributed that list to managers, who could then be prepared to work with impacted employees.

Interior IT officials had to make similar adjustments for user accounts on the agency’s network. Under their current rules, accounts expire and become locked if inactive for 30 days. After 35 days of shutdown, all furloughed employees would have had to reactivate their accounts and reset their passwords. Interior avoided this problem altogether by temporarily disabling this security measure so everyone’s accounts remained active when they returned to work.

Interior and FDA represent two case examples for how agencies can think about these issues as they update internal contingency plans ahead of the next appropriations deadline on Feb. 15. A senior administration official from the Office of Management and Budget said the agency will not be issuing special guidance on this, as it is on departments to develop these plans ahead of time.

“Each agency has various protocols for physical and information security, therefore they are responsible for addressing their individual orderly restart planning,” the official told Nextgov.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.