OMB: Security on tap

Although in office for more than a year, the Bush administration has made no progress on improving the security of government computer systems, a senior administration official told Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.).

During a Feb. 15 hearing on the administration's efforts to improve agency management and performance, Mark Everson told Horn that computer system security is an "area where we are very deficient across government."

"We haven't made an impact yet, but we're going to make an impact," he said. Everson is controller in the Office of Management and Budget.

Everson came equipped with a chart OMB devised to rate federal agencies on five performance elements, including their use of e-government. Federal agencies have failed overwhelmingly.

Everson's comment on the lack of pro.gress came in response to questions from Horn, whose report cards on agency computer security have indicated similar results.

OMB is requiring each agency to develop an adequate computer system security plan, Everson told Horn. "We are clearly attentive" to the problem, he said.

The government's inspectors general have also sounded alarms about lax computer system security, said Gaston Gianni, vice chairman of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

The council is primarily composed of IGs who audit agency performance and advise the president. Twenty-seven IGs have identified "information technology, security and critical infrastructure protection as the top management challenge facing their agency," Gianni wrote in testimony he presented to Horn.

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