Salem, OR—Every year since 1985, the first full week of May has been set aside as Public Service Recognition Week, a time to celebrate all of the work that our federal, state, county, and local government employees do as public servants. Personally, I feel grateful every week to have the opportunity to lead this incredible agency, due to the skills and professionalism each of our employees brings to the table and the dedication and commitment they show in their work. I knew before I was appointed Secretary of State that the team here was great, but seeing their work in action—particularly over the past several weeks—has blown me away. I am so impressed by the innovations and accommodations they have made both in and out of the workplace in the midst of this global pandemic. Each division has shown that they truly care about the work they do and want to make government work for all Oregonians, and I am very proud of and grateful for all of them.
Don’t forget to vote in the May 19th primary election! Be sure to mail in your ballots as soon as possible. Postage is prepaid, so you don't even need a stamp to mail in your ballot this year. The deadline for your local county clerk to receive your ballot is 8:00 P.M. on May 19th. Postmarks do not count so, if you think your ballot will not arrive in the mail on time, drop it off at an official ballot drop box. You can find a list of official ballot drop box locations at OregonVotes.gov/dropbox,
where you can also get virtual "I Voted" stickers to use and share on social media! If you’ve already mailed in or dropped off your ballot, you can check its status at OregonVotes.gov/myvote.
On April 15, KGW aired a news segment discussing Oregon’s success with mail-in voting, including perspectives from Governor Brown, former Secretary of State Phil Keisling, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. While some counties adopted it during the 1980s, Oregon voters adopted a statewide vote-by-mail system in 1998. Since then, Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii have all done the same thing. Vote-by-mail is cheaper and more convenient than other voting systems, it has given Oregon one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country, and we have proven that our system is very secure. Additionally, in the wake of COVID-19, it will prevent Oregon voters from having to choose between staying safe at home and casting their ballot. As I told KGW’s Pat Dooris, I think Oregon’s experience with vote-by-mail is a 20-year history of success. You can watch the segment here.
On April 17, KOIN aired its own segment, discussing the challenges that some county elections offices will face in the upcoming election as they try to process ballots and verify voters’ signatures while maintaining social distancing, as well as the efforts that our Elections Division is making to assist them, including providing tools to reduce the need for employees onsite and potentially allowing more time to validate the results. The segment mentions that ballot postage will be pre-paid this year. This is due to the passage of Senate Bill 861
in 2019. You can watch the segment here
and read more about KOIN’s interview with Elections Director Steve Tro…
This month, the Audits Division received an Excellence in Accountability Award from the National State Auditors Association for an audit conducted in 2018. The Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which was started in 2011 to help with patient health and safety when using prescription drugs, is a secure database where pharmacies report a patient’s prescription information and history. In 2018, the Audits Division released a report identifying the ways in which Oregon law constrained the program’s effectiveness, such as by limiting the type of data that could be collected, the ways in which the data could be analyzed, and the entities with whom the data could be shared. Having received similar awards in 2015, 2018, and 2019, it is no surprise to me that the Audits Division has once again been recognized for its outstanding work. Oregonians can rest assured that their auditors are an exceptional group of public servants who work tirelessly on their behalf. You can read the 2018 report here.
As I mentioned in a previous newsletter,
the Audits Division released a report in February explaining how state agencies could save millions of tax dollars by utilizing a data matching service provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to identify, prevent, and recover improper payments in programs like Medicaid that are administered by the state but funded by the federal government. Our Audits Division was the first in the nation to be granted access to that service, known Do Not Pay.
On April 14, the Treasury Department hosted a virtual conference in which it lauded Oregon as a leader and an example for other states in the success of using Do Not Pay. As a result of that success, the Treasury Department has already engaged with 13 other states to begin similar efforts. Once again, the hard work and innovation demonstrated by our Audits Division has represented Oregon well on the national stage and led to positive impacts around the country. You can read the February report here.
On May 6, the Audits Division released a report identifying various ways in which the Oregon State Police can improve its cybersecurity. Right now, OSP lacks a formal security management and compliance program. In addition, OSP is deficient with respect to a number of basic cybersecurity controls identified by the Center for Internet Security.
For example, OSP does not actively manage its hardware, software, and administrative privileges to ensure that only authorized devices, programs, and users are connected, installed, or have access to information systems. Moreover, OSP assesses and remediates its cyber vulnerability through non-standardized procedures, and lacks the tools needed to effectively monitor activity on its workstations, servers, and devices. The audit recommends steps that OSP can take to address these and other issues, and OSP has signaled its dedication to fixing all of them. You can read the report here.
On April 23, I was formally recognized by Age+
as one of its three 2020 Ageless Award Honorees, along with Terry Pancoast of Stoel Rives and LeRoy Patton of the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. As I also mentioned in a previous newsletter,
Age+ was created to ensure that Oregon communities and families have the resources and tools they need to accommodate and serve low income older adults. Each year, Age+ selects three Honorees who are 75 years or older, demonstrate living with purpose, and continue to make a difference in their community. In my acceptance speech, I talked about the impact older people had on me as a young person, the importance of remaining active in our communities after retirement, the support that I’ve received from my family along the way, and my hope that I can serve as an inspiration to others my age. Despite the fact that participation in this year’s luncheon was virtual due to the current health situation, Age+ raised over $100,000 to fund its activities in the coming year. I want to thank Age+ for the honor of receiving this award, and I look forward to next year’s luncheon when we can once again gather and celebrate in person. You can watch the recorded program here.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your Secretary of State.