Callahan put on leave

Laura Callahan, the deputy chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department, was placed on a paid leave today in the wake of questions about her academic credentials.

DHS spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich said Callahan was placed on administrative leave, but no decision has been made about the future of the top-ranking information technology official.

"This is our standard practice and does not reflect that we have made any decision on this matter or serves as any indication of what our decision may be," Petrovich said.

The department's move came following congressional demands for answers about Callahan's academic background as well as questions about how DHS conducts background checks. Lawmakers questioned whether Callahan was qualified for the job because she apparently had received her academic degrees from a so-called diploma mill.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, asked the Office of Personnel Management June 4 to find out if it is illegal or improper to embellish a resume.

The federal government should "vigilantly guard against such fraud at a time when we depend more and more on the capabilities and effectiveness of the U.S. civil service to ensure the security of our nation," Davis wrote.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, asked DHS to explain how and why Callahan was hired.

And Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Democratic Caucus, said that "if Homeland can't check the resumes for one of their most senior people in charge of their computer systems, it makes you wonder."

Callahan, who did not return repeated phone calls about her situation, has been a rising star in the government IT world. She had been the deputy CIO at the Labor Department until DHS CIO Steve Cooper tapped her to be his deputy.

In January, she was named the president of the Association for Federal Information Resources Management, a joint industry/government organization. AFFIRM is planning a meeting next week to discuss the situation.

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