Lieberman quizzes Ridge on federal IT security

Lieberman quizzes Ridge on federal IT security

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) has asked Tom Ridge, director of the homeland security office, to explain how his office is protecting the country's critical infrastructure and the security of federal information systems.

Lieberman, chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, this week sent a letter to Ridge with four questions about critical infrastructure and four questions about securing government information systems. He also asked Ridge about the organization of homeland security offices.

This letter follows 12 hearings since Sept. 11 on the government's response to bioterrorism, aviation, port and rail security, the local role in homeland security and the protection of the nation's critical infrastructure. In October, Lieberman introduced a bill to create a Department of Homeland Security (S 1534), a cabinet-level agency. The bill was referred to Lieberman's committee but has not moved.

Under the critical infrastructure protection section of the letter, Lieberman asked Ridge:

  • What steps have been taken to identify key infrastructures and what are they?

  • What steps have been taken to protect agencies' key infrastructures, and who within government is responsible for coordinating the plans?

  • How are the government's cybersecurity responsibilities allocated, and what further refinement plans are there?

  • How have the strategies for information sharing changed since Sept. 11, and what partnerships have developed between the federal government and the private sector?

The IT security questions included:

  • What will the roles of Ridge and cyberspace security adviser Richard Clarke be in furthering federal system security? And how will these two roles relate?

  • What are the administration's plans for completing the evaluation of the proposed secure government network, known as GovNet, and what alternatives are being discussed?

  • What is the administration doing to conduct R&D in information systems protection?

  • How is the administration assuring that adequate corrective action plans are being developed and implemented by agencies after the Office of Management and Budget's recent security report found deficiencies?

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