NASA making progress with IT security: IG

NASA has implemented policies and procedures in the past year that have improved its IT security'so much so that the space agency's inspector general has removed the issue from his list of most serious challenges.

Robert Cobb, the agency's IG, issued a report earlier this month outlining NASA's most serious management and performance challenges.

Cobb credited NASA CIO Patricia Dunnington for responding to recommendations made in the IG report issued in October 2004 to improve the agency's IT security.

Still on the list, however, is NASA's struggle to implement an integrated financial management system.

For the third year in a row the agency's financial statements received a disclaimer from the independent auditor because of internal control deficiencies, Cobb said. NASA has made some progress, Cobb added, including the reorganization of lines of authority so that chief financial officers in the agency's 10 centers now report to agency CFO Gwendolyn Brown.

Cobb called on the agency to produce 'viable corrective action plans to address the repeat internal control weaknesses it faces. Plans developed to date have lacked clear strategies for resolving the weaknesses and have not been finalized.'

The IG report follows a joint hearing held Oct. 27 by House Government Reform and Science subcommittees, where lawmakers blasted NASA's failure to get its financial systems reconciled and running properly.

At that hearing, Cobb testified that 'NASA does not currently have a financial system.'

Other issues identified as serious challenges for the agency are correcting the organizational and technical deficiencies that contributed to the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident, completing the International Space Station, and making the transition from the space shuttle program to the next-generation crew exploration vehicle.

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