CIOs tackle security 'nightmare'

Three federal chief information officers said that their top priority in

government is protecting the security of their computer systems.

This month's "love bug" attacks underscored how unprepared systems are

to counter cyberattacks, the CIOs said at Federal Sources Inc.'s Outlook

2001 conference in Falls Church, Va.

Speaking at the conference were Joseph Leo, Agriculture Department CIO;

John Gilligan, Energy Department CIO; and Paul Brubaker, acting deputy CIO

at the Defense Department.

"Computer security is at the top of my heap of priorities," Gilligan

said. DOE is restructuring its CIO organization to put more emphasis on

cybersecurity and to "upgrade the emphasis across the board" on oversight

and policy rules and responsibilities, he said.

"There are lots of back doors to the Internet, which makes security

a nightmare to manage," Brubaker said.

Asked to list their top priorities for 2001, the officials said they

included better management and new blood to replace workers who are retiring

or going to the private sector for more money.

"We're losing staff. We have a tremendous skill gap with regard to the

Internet Age," Leo said.

Among their other concerns:

* The next president and what priorities he will bring.

* More money to keep pace with modernization.

* Making the culture of government attuned to the culture of cyberspace.

* Better management and one-stop shopping.

CIOs also are worried about IT staffing, but that doesn't mean they

are ready to turn work over to private contractors, a recent survey shows.

Asked to rate the importance of more than a dozen issues in their jurisdictions,

a group of 132 federal, state and local CIOs ranked IT staffing above other

hot issues such as security/privacy, e-government and records management,

giving it a score of 4.38 on a scale of 5.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, finished last on the list, with a score

of 2.88. So, despite the strong response on IT staffing, "it is clear government

CIOs do not view outsourcing as the solution to staffing," according to

Steve LeCompte, vice president for events, online and research at FCW Government

Technology Group.

LeCompte surveyed CIOs and other IT directors who registered for the

Government CIO Summit, held this month in Savannah, Ga. The summit is produced

by the FCW Media Group, which publishes Federal Computer

Week.

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