US-VISIT CIO resigns

Scott Hastings, chief information officer at the of Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, has resigned and will leave in the next two months because of health problems.

“I’ve had a few things happen to me in the last few months that tell me I’m perhaps under more stress than I need to be at the moment,” he said.

He said he will probably take a lower-pressure job in private industry, although his first objective is to get out of government and then consider his options.

His resignation is not the result of any problems with the US-VISIT program, he said, adding that it is in good shape.

“There are a lot of good folk involved in the program, and it should be a major contributor” to DHS programs this year, Hastings said. “There are a lot of good things it’s involved with going forward.”

Nevertheless, after skirting a lot of the criticism leveled at other DHS programs in the past few years, US-VISIT came under pressure earlier this year from the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee and the Government Accountability Office, which questioned the quality and effectiveness of the program’s management.

Randy Hite, GAO’s director of information technology architecture and systems issues, said the program lacked a strategic plan and that its proposed strategies for tracking foreign visitors’ whereabouts didn’t appear cost-effective.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the subcommittee’s chairman, said he doubted that the systems supporting the program were well-managed. He pointed to the lack of an exit portion for tracking foreigners’ departures, which Congress had requested.

Hastings’ departure is the latest in a string of high-profile resignations at DHS. Steve Cooper, the department’s highly regarded former CIO, left in April 2005 soon after the departure of Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary of the department’s Border and Transportation Security Directorate, and six months after the sudden departure of Amit Yoran as DHS’ cybersecurity chief.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


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