Audit: TSA has weak IT security controls

Auditors found 15 problems that could affect financial data

The Transportation Security Administration had 15 information technology control deficiencies in fiscal 2008 that collectively represent a material weakness that could affect the integrity of the agency’s financial data, according to a recent audit released by the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Auditors from KPMG made 15 findings of deficiencies at TSA, including 13 repeat findings and two new findings.

TSA officials took corrective action in fiscal 2008 by testing disaster recovery procedures and reviewing audit logs, but the agency still fell short on oversight of the termination of a software support contract, configuration management and tracking of scripts.

“Collectively, the IT control weaknesses limited TSA’s ability to ensure that critical financial and operational data were maintained in such a manner to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability,” the report states. “In addition, these weaknesses negatively impacted the internal controls over TSA financial reporting and its operation, and we consider them to collectively represent a material weakness for TSA under standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.”

In a separate audit by KPMG, also released by DHS’ inspector general, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center was reported to have significant problems with IT security controls. Overall, the center had 27 repeat deficiencies and three new deficiencies in fiscal 2008.

The center had problems with security planning, access controls, application development and change control, system software, segregation of duties, and service continuity, the report states.

A significant deficiency is one that hurts an organization's ability to report financial data accurately. However, the center’s deficiency should not lead to incorrect statements on the balance sheet, KPMG said.

“The cumulative effect of the deficiencies identified should not lead to material misstatements in the agencywide financial statements,” the report states.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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