IG: Effectiveness of DOT IT security practices declines

The Transportation Department’s information security program and practices are not effective, the department’s inspector general said recently in audit findings done to comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act. Although some operational improvements have been made, in overall terms, the IG said the department’s security and privacy program and practices continued to decline.

Last year, the program and practices eroded because “management had to divert resources and attention to resolving headquarters move-related issues,” Calvin Scovel III, DOT's inspector general, said in a report released Oct. 14. DOT has not fully implemented Scovel’s recommendations from last year, he said.

The IG assessed DOT's implementation of minimum security standards, configuration management, incident handling and reporting and renewed initiatives in correcting security weaknesses in the air traffic control system.

Among its findings, the IG found that DOT had not been keeping up with publishing information security policies, including a breach notification policy and a cutoff date for FISMA data collection; managed configuration of commercial software to federal security standards; assured that employees and contractors received appropriate security training; included all security weaknesses in its Plans of Action and Milestones, and identified all systems that provide services through the Internet and are subject to e-authentication requirements.

Scovel made more than two dozen recommendations. DOT will follow them and provide in 30 days descriptions of specific actions and milestones it will take, DOT Chief Information Officer Dan Mintz said in response. For example, DOT  renew its agreement with its Federal Aviation Administration to provide cyber security management services for all the department; evaluate, re-baseline and complete deployment of configuration standards under the Federal Desktop Core Configuration; and propose to incorporate information security and privacy metrics in the performance plans of agency CIOs.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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