Reviews mixed on security, staffing

Reviews mixed on security, staffing

Several federal departments received mixed grades from the General Accounting Office for the work force management and information security strategies outlined in their fiscal 2002 performance plans.

The Health and Human Services Department does not have performance goals related to leadership continuity and acquiring and developing staff to meet agency needs in 2002, GAO said in a report, Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges, released last month.

Nor does the department have goals to strengthen its computer systems security, even though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has identified specific measures such as increasing the number of employees who receive security training and evaluating Medicare contractors' security profiles, GAO said.

GAO gave better grades to the Social Security Administration, which it said has revised its work force-related objectives to 'recruit, develop and retain a well-qualified and satisfied work force.'

Still needs work

But SSA does not have specific goals for information security, even though its plan states that it will deploy new security technology and introduce performance measures, GAO said.

Other assessments from the GAO report:

  • The Veterans Affairs Department's 2002 plan got passing marks for its approach to both work force and security issues. The plan lists strategic goals and objectives to address human capital issues. VA also has developed a strategy to tackle information security weaknesses.

  • The Treasury Department has made strides in several areas. The department will roll out a new human resources system to meet its business requirements and also plans to increase the number of bureaus measuring employee satisfaction.

  • The IRS will complete security certifications of sensitive systems by September 2002.

  • The Customs Service does not have performance plans and measures that address information security, but the agency has increased its security budget, contracted for additional support and addressed audit recommendations that include installing additional firewall protection.

  • The Financial Management Service should establish an effective security program and work with the Federal Reserve banks to resolve vulnerabilities related to FMS systems supported by the banks.

  • The Labor Department got a clean chit. GAO said the department has goals related to human capital management and added that the agency's performance plan summarizes its efforts to enhance information security.

    SSA, Labor and Customs agreed with the GAO findings.

    Though VA agreed with the report, the agency said it was concerned that GAO suggested that its performance plan was inadequate.

    In their response, Treasury officials pointed out that FMS has an information technology security program that contains performance criteria.
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