Administration will review FISMA metrics
The Office of Management and Budget has said it will review the security metrics agencies use to report their compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and it may develop new metrics to improve the assurance of information security at agencies.
In general, reports from agencies’ chief information officers and inspectors general during fiscal 2008 showed increased compliance with FISMA’s information security requirements, according to the a report from OMB to Congress on agencies’ FISMA implementation released recently. However, OMB also said “it could be time to modify the metrics to improve the assurance of security.”
“One goal for new metrics would be to move beyond periodic compliance reporting to more continuous monitoring of security,” the report said.
Federal agencies spent $6.2 billion on securing information technology systems in fiscal 2008, or about 9.2 percent of the approximately $68 billion spent on IT, OMB said.
OMB's report also said in fiscal 2008, most of the 25 major federal agencies and departments “made incremental progress” in closing IT security performance gaps against the established performance criteria.
The report is based on annual reviews of agencies’ information security programs by CIOs, IGs and agency program officials. OMB said agencies should try to get 100 percent of their operational systems certified and accredited, properly identify and provide oversight of contractor systems, and maintain privacy notices for 100 percent of all applicable systems.
OMB said in fiscal 2008, the 25 major agencies:
FISMA's critics have argued that agencies' compliance with the law can be more of a paperwork exercise than providing effective cybersecurity. Last year, legislation was proposed that would have amended FISMA by requiring an annual independent audit rather than an annual evaluation, increasing the responsibilities of chief information security officers, mandating governmentwide contract language and requiring operational evaluations.
Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.