Protecting Whistleblowers: The Dodd-Frank Act

In an unprecedented action, the Security and Exchange Commission raised the bar when it comes to protecting whistleblowers.  Houston-based engineering and tech firm Kellog Brown & Root, Inc. (KBR) received a cease and desist order and a $130,000 penalty for language in a confidentiality agreement employees were required to sign in 2015.

KBR is one of the largest government contractors with over 25,000 employees across 40 countries.  Between 2002-2011, they won nearly $40 billion in federal work in Afghanistan and Iraq.  A former employee brought about allegations that KBR and Halliburton (KBR’s former parent company and one of the world’s largest [...]


Personal Health Information and the Department of Health and Human Services

How safe is your personal health information?  Two studies by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) point out perceived deficiencies in the way Americans’ health information is protected and secured under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  The reports, made public in October 2015, target the audit process and lay out plans to revamp the audit program in early 2016.

Protected health information (PHI) includes a patient’s name, age, gender, prognosis, and payment for treatment.  This information, whether communicated orally, electronically, or in written form, when handled by health care providers, [...]


From Hurricanes to Patents: Examining the Department of Commerce

The United States Department of Commerce (DoC) is a regulatory authority, created in 1903, consisting of twelve bureaus.  The Secretary of Commerce serves on the President’s Cabinet as an economic advisor on all U.S. business matters.  According to its mission statement, “The Department works with businesses, universities, communities, and the Nation’s workers to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved standards of living for Americans.”

Twelve Bureaus

The DoC consists of twelve bureaus:

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
Economics and Statistics Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Bureau of Industry and Security
International Trade Commission
National Technical Information Service Bureau
Census Bureau
Minority Business Development Agency
National Telecommunication [...]


Carhacking and Cybersecurity

In a move that both attracts young, tech-savvy car shoppers and makes the automobile a mobile device, car manufacturers are making connectivity a top priority.  It’s becoming the norm to see remote start, streaming music, remote locking and unlocking, wireless tire pressure monitors, Bluetooth, and rolling Wi-Fi as standard features on the car lot.  Ford models can send text and email alerts to drivers.  Chryslers and Dodges constantly update traffic information and help the user reroute to save time.  Mercedes’ mbrace, BMW Assist, and GM vehicles with OnStar technology allow for remote disabling of their engines in the event of [...]