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Now for the Real Work: Robert Howard, the newest assistant secretary for information and technology for Veterans Affairs, told Senators during his confirmation hearing Sept. 30 that close to 15,000 VA laptops are now encrypted, one of hundreds of security measures taken in the wake of the earlier theft of computers containing personal data on millions of veterans and military members. Howard, who has served as acting assistant secretary prior to his confirmation, witnessed firsthand the blistering criticism of the VA’s initial bumbling reaction to the thefts. In the hearing, Howard emphasized: “The best way to achieve 100 percent security is to make sure every single employee understands their responsibility. This is a people issue. We can go nuts with technical capabilities, but the bottom line is the people involved.” In a statement, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said Howard was “very impressive” in his confirmation hearing.