Gov't Shutdown Poses Unseen Challenges

One CISO's Tale of a Down-to-the-Wire Quest to Avoid Chaos
Minnesota faces a government shutdown Friday, and state CISO Chris Buse confronts unexpected barriers in preparing for it. No one yet knows what services the IT security organization must support once the midnight deadline passes."It's a situation I hope none of my peers have to face," Buse says in an interview with (click on a podcast option at right to listen).

Minnesota's Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature can't agree on how to fund the state budget. Without a budget, all but the most critical state services will be shuttered. The decision on what to shut down is up to Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin.

As the shutdown looms, what's most important isn't whether IT security is crucial or not, but how best to support government agencies and services deemed critical and what to do with those that aren't judged vital. "The tough part about it is we don't know yet who is critical and who is not critical," Buse says. "We'll probably find this out at the very last minute and have to figure out how all the provisioning will happen."

Even if Minnesota averts a government shutdown, the state's IT services organization has been damaged, Buse says. With the shutdown pending, a talented member of the IT security staff quit, leaving for a stable job, and basically saying, according to Buse: "You know, I have a family and a mortgage payment, and I just can't afford this uncertainty when I don't have to." Buse says he worries that other employees might not be able to ride out a shutdown. "They don't have the financial wherewithal to do so," he says.

In the Tuesday afternoon interview, Buse also addresses the various contingency plans being considered to handle the shutdown.

Still, Buse sees a silver lining if a shutdown occurs: "If you could navigate through these waters, I feel you like you could navigate through about anything."

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