Interior makes switch at CIO

Interior CIO page

Serving as the Interior Department's chief information officer is a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.

Daryl White is no longer that somebody.

In a move that went unannounced, White became special assistant for technology at the Bureau of Reclamation June 10. He is working on issues related to law enforcement and security.

As of July 8, however, Interior's Web site still listed him as the departmentwide CIO, complete with a picture and a biography.

But Hord Tipton is now acting in his stead. Tipton previously was CIO at the Bureau of Land Management.

White was appointed Interior's CIO in March 1998. During his tenure, the department's information technology systems came under fire.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Interior to disconnect from the Internet in December to protect data maintained under its multimillion-dollar Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS), citing a report that showed hackers could breach the system.

White testified Jan. 10 that his office had strictly an advisory and policy function and oversaw hundreds of department systems in addition to TAAMS, which collects and maintains data on the 54 million acres of American Indian land.

Interior has held American Indian-owned lands in trust for more than 100 years, leasing the properties and processing revenue earned from farming and drilling. A group of beneficiaries filed a class-action lawsuit in 1996, claiming that poor bookkeeping has prevented landowners and their descendants from determining their account balances. They estimate as much as $10 billion in lost or missing funds.

Lamberth directed the department to initiate a historical accounting in 1999. Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb, who both took office in 2001, face five contempt charges that include failure to comply with that order.

In July 2001, Norton established the Office of Historical Trust Accounting to take charge of the matter.

Last week, the office submitted a "Report to Congress on the Historical Accounting of Individual Indian Money Accounts" that details its proposed approach to the project.

A full accounting will take about 10 years and cost about $2.4 billion, according to the report. The office has designated Dec. 31, 2000, as the cutoff date for the historical accounting period.

The plaintiffs balked at the proposal.

"Under the proposed plan, many of our older beneficiaries will have passed on before the promised accounting," they said in a statement July 3. "We cannot, should not, and will not tolerate this delay any longer. The secretary should settle this lawsuit to restore justice to the hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries to whom she owes the highest degree of care, trust, and responsibility."

A decision on the case is pending.

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