DOD IT resources failed during Katrina

Shipments of goods to soldiers in Southwest Asia were delayed for four days after Hurricane Katrina because a logistics center in Baton Rouge, La., wasn't properly prepared for the disaster, according to a Defense Department report.

“The 321st Theater Material Management Center Rear lacked internal controls and a disaster recovery plan to adequately protect and safeguard information technology resources,” states an Oct. 18 report by the DOD Inspector General’s Office.

The center lost voice and data communications during the hurricane and was unable to resume operating one critical logistics information technology system within 24 hours, as required, the report states.

The IG’s office also found that the center’s internal controls were substandard. “We identified internal control weakness in the protection of [IT] resources,” it said. The center also did not have a disaster recovery plan.

The center is a U.S. Army Reserve unit under the 377th Theater Support Command. It is responsible for supply management for the area under Central Command, supporting the systems that track and deliver all ammunition and supplies to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

Eventually, the unit re-established communications with Southwest Asia via satellite with the help of the Very Small Aperture Terminal Office, a part of the Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems, which borrowed satellite terminals from a unit at Fort Polk, La., according to a news report.

But “the consequences of a delay in providing important information or of a degradation of services may seriously affect the mission and operational readiness,” the IG report states.

Since Katrina, the center’s most critical IT resource, the Corps Theater Automatic Data Processing Center, was moved to Redstone Arsenal, Ala., because of an unrelated consolidation.

Nevertheless, the IG recommended that the management center establish disaster recovery measures for its critical IT systems at their final locations and that Army Materiel Command execute those measures after the consolidation.

Army officials concurred with the IG office’s recommendations.

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