Education CIO reps join advisory team

Two members of the Education Department's Office of the Chief Information Officer are joining an eight-person team to address longstanding mismanagement at the department.

Education Secretary Rod Paige appointed Rick Miller, the principal deputy CIO for information technology, and Robert Davidson, the acting deputy CIO for information assurance, to a new Management Improvement Team to look into financial abuse and fraud at the department.

The team will work exclusively on developing a "Blueprint for Management Excellence" over the next three months. The blueprint will include spelling out how the department can:

Obtain a clean audit opinion from the department's auditor, which it has done only once since independent audits were first required in 1996. Remove the Office of Student Financial Assistance Programs from the General Accounting Office's high-risk list. Put controls in place to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of the department's assets. Other members of the team include representatives from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of Student Financial Assistance Programs. Jack Higgins, Education's deputy inspector general, will lead the team.

The Management Improvement Team is part of an initiative that aims to improve department management. Another effort will include the formation of a panel by the Council for Excellence in Government to advise the department. The initiative also makes the hiring of a new chief financial officer and assistant secretary of Education for management a top priority.

"The problems are serious," said Paige, announcing the initiative at a press conference April 20. "Auditors have cited the department for inadequate financial reporting, bad reconciliation of financial records, and poor control over information systems."

According to Education's Inspector General's Office, more than $450 million in department funds have been misused since 1998.

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