Agencies outline security changes

OMB GISRA report

Federal agencies are reviewing old security programs and kicking off new ones in response to the deficiencies discovered during the self-assessments required by Congress, officials testified March 6.

Energy and Defense department officials outlined several major changes in their information security policies and practices as they testified before a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee.

The changes include new system certification, employee training and policy compliance programs.

At Energy, that means increasing security education and awareness programs to ensure that "every member of the department's infrastructure is aware that cybersecurity is an integral part of his or her job," said Karen Evans, the new chief information officer at Energy.

The department also is developing new programs, such as a departmentwide certification and accreditation process for all of its unclassified systems to complement the process already in place on the classified side, she said.

All of these programs are being developed by a working group made up of officials from every portion of the department to ensure buy-in at all levels, she said.

The DOD assessment found that while the department has good security policies, practices and procedures, it does little verification of compliance despite initiatives such as the DOD Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Program (DITSCAP), said Robert Gorrie, deputy director of the Defensewide Information Assurance Program.

The problem will not be solved by stricter audits and enforcement of the DITSCAP, he said. Instead "non-compliance is more a symptom of the complexity of that process and the clarity of its implementing policy," Gorrie said.

So now the DITSCAP is undergoing a "dramatic modification in policy as well as implementation," he said. The department is also looking at possible automated tools to ease the documentation burden on security and system administrators, he said.

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