IG: DHS CIO is not a member of senior management

The Homeland Security Department remains a day late and a dollar short in creating a single infrastructure for effective communications and exchanging information, according to the latest inspector general’s report.

In a report issued Dec. 27, the IG says the DHS chief information officer is not well-positioned to integrate information technology at the department. As a result, DHS is still missing critical components to interoperable communications.

“Despite federal laws and requirements, the CIO is not a member of the senior management team with authority to strategically manage departmentwide technology assets and programs,” DHS IG Richard Skinner wrote in the report.

The department has started to formalize the reporting relationships between the CIOs of major component organizations and DHS’. But “the CIO still does not have sufficient staff resources to assist in carrying out the planning, policy formulation and other IT management activities needed to support departmental units.”

In response, DHS officials argued that the CIO is well-positioned to accomplish its mission. The office continues to work on the integration of the department’s information system, and the Infrastructure Transformation Office is managing the transformation of 20 individual IT infrastructures.

But some of the tasks remain daunting. The transformation office is working on a common e-mail system and a centralized help desk. The office is developing an integrated enterprise network to minimize IT infrastructure redundancy, and it is in the process of improving security by reducing the number of locations and consolidating network entry points, DHS said.

“The security of IT infrastructure is a major management challenge,” Skinner said. “As required by the Federal Information Security Management Act, the CIO must develop and implement a departmentwide information security program that ensures the effectiveness of security controls over information resources, including its intelligence systems, which address the risks and vulnerabilities facing DHS’ IT systems,” Skinner said.

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