SEC Announces New Computer Access Rule


This week, the SEC announced its implementation of this program requiring employees to insert their HSPD-12 ID cards into their keyboards to gain access to the SEC computer network. Through the use of this tool, the SEC will be able to monitor and collect data concerning when employees are on the agency's network and when they are not.

The union does not oppose the use of HSPD-12 cards to ensure the security of the SEC's network. However, in repeated communications with the SEC's Office of Human Resources, the union requested that the SEC agree not to utilize the data it collects from the use of the HSPD-12 cards in potential discipline cases against employees for absence without leave, or for purposes of evaluation of employees. The union reasoned that such data are not reliable to establish when employees are working, given that many of the tasks SEC employees perform every day do not require access to the network. Indeed, for that reason, other agencies have entered into reasonable agreements not to use such data for discipline or performance evaluation purposes (e.g., NTEU has an agreement with Customs and Border Protection that provides that ID cards will "not be utilized to track bargaining unit employee attendance or performance, nor will it otherwise be used as a tool to monitor bargaining unit employees"). 

OHR insisted that it would not agree not to use the HSPD-12 card data for discipline or evaluation purposes. Instead, OHR officials amended SEC Administrative Regulation 5-13 by inserting the use of HSPD-12 card data into Part 8, which sets forth the procedures by which the SEC may use Egress Pad data to discipline employees (SECR 5-13 may be reviewed here). These changes make it clear that the SEC may use HSPD-12 data to make a discipline case against an employee. Indeed, the fact that OHR insisted on this suggests that the agency intends to use the data for this purpose.

Unfortunately, the union's bargaining rights over issues related both to security and the evidence management may rely upon in discipline cases are extremely limited, and it could not prevent the implementation of this policy.

For many years, the SEC did not closely monitor employee comings and goings, opting instead to foster a professional culture based upon mutual trust and respect, rather than emphasizing a “factory floor” mindset. Employees were judged based upon the quality and quantity of their work product. This approach, which is similar to the culture of the law firms, accounting firms and other entities from which the vast lion's share of SEC employees have come to the SEC, was good for morale. Ten years ago, SEC management even entered into a contract with the union which provided that the use of access cards to “card in” and “card out” at Station Place turnstiles would not “serve as a basis for monitoring time and attendance” of SEC employees in Washington.  Over the past several years, however, OHR regrettably has driven a “time clock” mentality, and SECR 5-13 and the new HSPD-12 card policy is consistent with that approach. The union believes that these types of policies are not conducive to a positive agency culture.

We are bringing this to your attention so that you will be aware of the full scope of how HSPD-12 card data can be utilized by the agency. The agency's announcement (see first link above) does not make this clear.