Callahan's credentials questioned

Laura Callahan, deputy chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department, was put on paid leave June 5 in the wake of questions from Congress about her academic credentials.

The department's action followed congressional demands for answers about Callahan's qualifications to be the No. 2 information technology official at the new agency. Lawmakers questioned whether Callahan received her academic credentials from a so-called diploma mill.

"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," said DHS spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich. She said DHS was still investigating and gathering information about Callahan.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, asked the Office of Personnel Management June 4 what kind of policy the government has to screen potential employees and "guard against such fraud."

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

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Democratic Caucus, said it was troubling that one of the highest officials at the department could "make it through a background check while allegedly misleading the department about her educational background."

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

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