Reston Association Board Postpones Vote on ‘Critical’ Move to Address IT Flaws, Issues

Last year, Reston Association’s website was abruptly taken down because of outdated technology and stability issues.  The loss of some financial records and limited backups was also cited as an issue in previous board meetings.

These challenges, along with other IT security needs, have prompted a call by four board members to create a board IT committee. If approved, the volunteer-run committee would be tasked with reviewing RA’s technology landscape, advising the association on procurement, data security and privacy, as well as other hands-on solutions. Board members Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza, Bob Petrine, and Tom Mulkerin also worked on the plan.

Board member Ven Iyer, who described himself as an expert in security and IT infrastructure with 19 years of experience, said RA’s IT systems are “unfit”for conducting financial and Personally Identifiable data.

“If you were a bank or you were somebody handling PI data, you would be shut down. And you thoroughly need the help,” Iyer said at a special board meeting earlier this week.

He says RA’s IT issues are so severe that the institution of a board committee is necessary in order to make “RA capable of conducting business.”

But the proposal was met with some skepticism by other board members. Board president Julie Bitzer said the proposal needed a more thorough review before a board vote.

Four board members and RA’s legal counsel will revise the proposal in advance of another board special meeting on Monday, Feb. 15. The move was suggested by board member John Mooney and backed by Bitzer, Mike Collins, Caren Anton, and Aaron Webb.

“You don’t rush something important like this,”Mooney said.

Some board members questioned if it was appropriate to set up a board committee – which has more authority than an advisory or working group – to manage and advise RA on IT issues. Other board committees like RA’s Board Governance Committee and Board Advisory Committee have more authority than working groups or advisory committees. 

Others simply said immediate action was necessary, especially since IT-related spending is a big-ticket spending item.

“The feeling was that you need to have the strength of the board like the fiscal committee does,” said D’Szousa.

Iyer, who said he has pushed for the creation of an IT committee for years, said the urgency of the need should not be underestimated.

Irwin Flashman, an RA member, said that residents would be more than willing to help support RA’s IT efforts and guide decision-making with expert advice.

“Reston is a technology center and many of those who work in the industry live in Reston and would be well qualified and willing, I feel certain, to lend a guiding hand to such an IT Committee and RA,”Flashman said.

‘We urge the board to act diligently and seriously. You hold the security of RA information in your hands. It is a great and serious responsibility.’

Within one day, RA staff quickly created a temporary website in July after the association’s IT team learned that the old website created a “potential security risk” to RA members and the DotNetNuke platform was no longer ‘technically supportable,’ according to past meeting materials.

Planning is underway to launch a new website with enhanced communication features later this year.

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