SSA should keep a close eye on computer access, IG says

Overall SSA systems compliant with FISMA

The Social Security Administration needs to be more vigilant in controlling employees access to the agency's systems, according to a new audit.

The auditors examined SSA’s compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) in fiscal 2009. Overall, the agency passed the test, generally fuflilling federal requirements, according to the audit released by SSA Inspector General Patrick O’Carroll.

“Our FY 2009 FISMA evaluation determined that SSA generally complied with FISMA; however, some improvements are needed,” the IG's office concluded.

The audit by the inspector general noted a “significant deficiency” in internal financial controls because the SSA did not continually assess individuals’ access to the agency’s mainframe computer data.

However, that deficiency did not rise to the level of a significant deficiency as defined under FISMA because the SSA has other controls in place, including intrusion detection systems, closed circuit television, automated systems checks, configuration management and firewalls, the report said.

The IG also reviewed concerns raised in previous audits of FISMA at the agency, and recommends that the SSA continue to implement recommendations from those previous reports.

The agency is evaluating the report, Dorothy Clark, a press officer for the agency, said today. “ The Inspector general made several recommendations that the agency is considering,” she said in a statement.

In a separate report, the IG recently outlined major management challenges at the SSA, including challenges in upgrading its IT systems. Specifically, the agency faces certain obstacles in carrying out its planned replacement of its data center. 


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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