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Charbo's fun week

And yes, I'm on vacation, but I'm up early because Federal News Radio asked if I could be on with them this morning. (When you go to bed before 10 p.m., you wake up very early! Who knew!?!)

So in the Sunday NYT's Week in Review section, the lead piece is headlined, Bit Wars: When Computers Attack. It is about how governments are stepping up their cyberwar efforts.

Which leads us to the fun DHS had last week regarding the agency's cybersecurity efforts.

I wasn't at the hearing last week looking at DHS' cybersecurity situation, but I have spoken to the reporters who were there and read the testimony and...whew! Fun for DHS! In fact, we used it as FCW's Buzz of the Week for the issue that is out today.

I noted one of my favorite lines from the Seinfeld TV show…

Jerry: Who wants to responsible? When ever anything goes wrong, the first thing they ask is: Who's responsible for this?


And yes -- they have the entire script of the episode online. Who would guess that there would be a Web site, www.seinfeldscripts.com. Ain't the Web just great!?!

Not only did DHS Chief Information Officer Scott Charbo get grilled at the hearing, he also took it on the chin on Washington, D.C.'s Federal News Radio's morning show. WFED's morning man Mike Causey and morning show producer Francis Rose were talking to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, about the DHS hearing. Thompson noted that the committee wasn't happy with DHS' response to the problems.

And then Thompson said this:

"I'm almost of the opinion that we have a Michael Brown situation developing in this department. As you know Michael Brown was the infamous head of FEMA during Katrina. Well, based on the testimony and our examination of Mr. Charbo's credentials...you know, he has a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in plant science. It does not show a strong background in IT security. And so therefore, many of those issues, had we had someone in that position with the background, they probably could have found it before outside investigators found those breaches."

"He is clearly a long ways away from being the best qualified person for the job."

You can hear the interview for yourself here. (Windows Media format)

I'm not going to get into Charbo's qualifications.

But CIOs do find themselves in an interesting spot these days. Earlier this year, we warned CIOs that they better be careful what they wish for because after DHS and Veterans Affairs gave the CIOs the "power of the purse," they suddenly have, in the words of Jerry, responsibility.

But, when it comes right down to it, it is better to have the power and the responsibility. Previously, most CIOs have the responsibility without the power.

We all have competing priorities. The most difficult task is sorting out and prioritizing those competing priorities. No small task.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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