Y2K could hamper State's visa application process

The State Department has been slow in addressing Year 2000 issues, which could have a major impact on the agency's ability to perform key functions, including identifying visa applicants who may pose a threat to the nation's security, according to a report released last month by the General Accounting Office.

The report, part of a GAO series on "Major Management Challenges and Program Risks" at federal agencies, also recommends that State make the full implementation of an IT planning and investment process a top priority. This would include the development of an IT architecture to help guide the modernization, the establishment of a fully functioning technical review board and the identification of potential cost savings and efficiencies.

In terms of the Year 2000 computer problem, the report states that recent data suggests that State is beginning to make progress in remediating systems that have been determined to be mission-critical. State has prioritized its mission-critical applications and adopted an improved approach and contingency planning efforts focused on core business functions and supporting systems, according to the report.

GAO recommends that State needs to establish a central information security unit, adopt risk-based information technology security management techniques, prepare new management guidance on IT security and increase IT security awareness activity.

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