VA errors compromise identity verification credentials

The Veterans Affairs Department may have issued more than 157,000 personal identification credentials with a compromised ability to authenticate the identity of the individuals who received the credentials, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

Belinda Finn, assistant inspector general for audits and evaluations, recommended in the Sept. 30 report that the department immediately direct the VA Enrollment Centers to stop issuing new credentials until the control deficiencies are addressed.

“Because of missing procedures and significant control lapses in Enrollment Center operations, VA has compromised the integrity of all Personal Identity Verification credentials issued to date,” Finn wrote.

VA officials said they had taken immediate action to mitigate the risks uncovered in the report by reviewing the questionable credentials, and Finn said that response was acceptable.


Related coverage:

VA two years behind schedule on issuing secure ID cards, OIG says


The VA needs to correct the identified deficiencies and formally accredit the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 program. Until that happens, its identity credentials cannot be used governmentwide.

Finn estimated the cost to remediate the deficiencies at approximately $6.7 million, and said the cost would continue to increase if additional credentials are issued.

Overall, the VA may have issued at least 147,000 credentials without determining whether applicants are known or suspected terrorists and presented genuine and unaltered identity source documents, Finn wrote in the report.

Also, VA may have issued at least 5,100 credentials without verifying applicants’ background investigations, and 5,600 credentials where staff circumvented separation of duty control requirements.

Finn made six other recommendations, and VA officials agreed with all of them.

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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