9/11 commissioners fail DHS on homeland security

Members of the former 9/11 Commission today handed out failing grades for several IT initiatives in a report card that highlights shortcomings of the Homeland Security Department.

The report was issued by the Public Discourse Project, a nonprofit group founded by the leadership of the 9/11 Commission so they could continue to educate the public about homeland security.

The group gave the Homeland Security Department an F grade for failing to implement improved passenger screening IT programs at airports to check all passengers against a consolidated terrorist watch list. The Secure Flight program, currently in development, has been delayed because of privacy and information security concerns.

In other criticism, the group gave the draft National Infrastructure Protection Plan a D grade because while it spells out a methodology for making vulnerability assessments, it has not actually made any assessments yet.

Under the plan, 17 key sectors, including water, energy, transportation and IT, are to cooperate with DHS on securing their infrastructure. 'All key decisions are at least a year away,' according to the public discourse project.

The report card also gives D grades to DHS for delays in implementing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to issue guidelines for protecting privacy and sharing personal information; lack of international collaboration on biometrics and travel security documents; and for delays and lack of incentives in governmentwide information sharing.

Areas that earned B grades included the operation of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator System for screening incoming visitors and the steps taken to standardize the processes for obtaining security clearances.

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

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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