County government key to protecting citizens

November 15, 2019
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
TAC News

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Winter holidays are here, but — in honor of Veterans Day — I wanted to take a minute to thank all of the veterans who leave military service and choose to work for county government in Texas, either as elected officials or as county law enforcement, firefighters, and other staff. We are grateful for your service and grateful that you have decided that local government allows you to continue helping your fellow citizens.

Everyone in county government plays an essential role in protecting the taxpayers' private data from hackers who use seemingly innocent, even routine email with links or attachments that infect a computer network once they are opened. Since 2013, there have been a reported 169 attacks on local government. In August 2019, hackers targeted 22 local governments in Texas. Several of these were counties. In one instance attackers asked for a collective $2.5 million in ransom to unlock files. Approximately 17% of local government victims of these attacks had no choice but to pay ransom for the return of their data. The 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3834, requiring the employees of all Texas counties to complete a cybersecurity awareness course certified by the Department of Information Resources by June 14, 2020. TAC will be offering a DIR-certified class free to our members. Please watch for more information early next year on county.org.

Speaking of deadlines, the TAC Risk Management Pool Safety Achievement Awards application deadline is Dec. 15. Every year TAC RMP recognizes member counties for their commitment to controlling claims costs and improving safety and loss control programs. You can find out more about the application process here.

We at TAC have a lot to be thankful for this year. This year has seen a lot of changes, which we have undertaken to better serve our members. Service is at the core of our mission. To that end, TAC employees embarked in November on an ambitious initiative to build a culture based on accountability, teamwork, continuous improvement and delivering, without fail, unbelievable customer service. We also learned in November that the Austin American-Statesman selected TAC the No. 1 midsized company to work for in the Austin metropolitan area. I know I can speak for the entire TAC team when I say that our dedication to serving county government is at the core of our success this year and every year. In 2020, we plan to find new and innovative ways to help Texas counties deliver.

In a final note, I want to thank Constable Larry Gallardo for his dedicated service to TAC. He has served as the President of TAC for the past two years and has been a continuous source of support for our employees during a time of great change. Larry's tenure as President has been landmark as being the first Hispanic to serve in this role. This is a true testament to the person and leader that he is, dedicating endless hours to furthering TAC's mission. On behalf of the staff at the Texas Association of Counties, thank you, Larry!

We appreciate each of you and the trust place in TAC. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and joyous holiday season.