GAO focuses on EPA info management

Information management drew heavy focus in the General Accounting Office's Performance and Accountability Series report on the Environmental Protection Agency.

GAO found that the EPA needs to establish an information management strategy to address many problems, such as databases that can't work together.

"EPA's data management system is outmoded in many ways, including having separately designed databases that are generally not technically compatible," the report stated. "This lack of compatibility has made it difficult for EPA to aggregate data to present comprehensive information on chemicals, industrial sectors, localities, and environmental conditions and trends."

GAO also found that the EPA's information security program puts the agency's data and operations at risk of disruption and tampering.

"For example, we found that the agency's security program planning and management was largely a paper exercise that had done little to substantively identify, evaluate and mitigate risks to EPA's data and systems," the report stated. "In addition, our tests of computer-based controls identified widespread weaknesses associated with EPA's operating systems and agencywide computer network that support most of its mission-related and financial operations."

GAO noted that many of the security problems it identified, including the risk of Internet intrusion, had been reported by the EPA's inspector general in 1997.

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