FAA to perform IT security for all of Transportation

Obtacles confront ATC modernization: GAO

The Federal Aviation Administration will provide information technology security for the Transportation Department by early fiscal 2008, which begins in October, said Dave Bowen, FAA chief information officer. The effort is part of a move to develop shared services to increase savings.

FAA already conducts IT security around the clock to protect the air traffic control system and provides weekend and after-hours IT security for other DOT agencies. That’s because IT security in other DOT agencies involves smaller operations and is limited to business hours. FAA is finalizing an agreement with the department to merge IT security operations and considering budgets for the service.

“We don’t see many civilian agencies with the security expertise and infrastructure and ability to detect malevolent events as we do in FAA,” Bowen said at an industry event Input sponsored earlier this week.

FAA’s IT security operation should be able to scale easily to the rest of DOT. FAA also has a lot of automation built into its security process.

“We’re seeing lots of alerts, and the vast majority of them are dealt with automatically,” Bowen said. “It alerts us only to those that are serious.”

FAA intends to get approval from the Office of Management and Budget to be named a Center of Excellence for IT security and market the IT security service to other agencies, particularly small agencies that lack the expertise and portfolio to afford a sophisticated security operation, Bowen said.

Besides shared services, FAA is consolidating this year enterprisewide IT functions, managing software acquisitions better and improving IT investment governance with a dashboard approach against project portfolios. A dashboard lets portfolio managers easily view a summary of projects and aggregate data based on certain measurements so they can track progress and drill down to identify trouble spots.

FAA has saved $10 million through shared services.

FAA is facing reauthorization this fall with challenges in how to finance the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System and the system’s dependence on advanced technologies and increased capacity in airports and in air space. FAA has depended in the past on commercial user fees in the Aviation Trust Fund, but that is expiring this fall.

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