Transportation faces security, IT investment issues

Transportation Department

The Transportation Department's Inspector General included information technology security and investment among 10 top management challenges facing the department in a report released today.

IT security continues to be a weakness for the agency, despite progress in the past year. Only 33 percent of DOT computer systems have undergone security certification reviews as of September 2003, according to the report. Furthermore, the agency as of September had only 26 percent of systems with contingency plans, which were described by the IG as "often inadequate."

Transportation officials set a goal of having 90 percent of the 630 total systems certified as adequately secured by July 2004, the report says.

The report listed actions that must be taken by Transportation in order to improve the cost-effectiveness of DOT's annual $2.7 billion technology investment. The IG said Transportation officials should give the department's Investment Review Board a more critical role in identifying high-risk projects for review, and require modal administrations to share more timely information on proposed projects.

According to the study, the Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for more than 80 percent of DOT's total IT investments, yet is plagued by significant cost overruns and schedule delays with purchases.

"These management challenges are complicated by the current government and transportation environment -- we have entered a period of deficit spending, trust fund revenues are down; program needs are up -- and the Department has pending reauthorizations in intercity passenger rail, highways, motor carriers and transit," said DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead.

Other DOT management challenges identified by the IG include highway safety, aviation safety, hazardous materials safety and security, protecting taxpayer investments in highway and transit infrastructure projects, improving FAA's fiscal discipline, intercity passenger rail, the Maritime Administration loan guarantee program and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.

The report also states that DOT officials must successfully convert its accounting operations to the Delphi financial system and use it to strengthen financial controls and generate reliable reports.

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