election security

DHS election security efforts need more work, IG says

Staff shortages are making it difficult for the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with states on securing the nation’s election infrastructure, the agency's inspector general told Congress in a new report.

"Additional staff could enhance DHS' ability to provide technical assistance and outreach to state and local election officials during elections" moving forward, the DHS Office of Inspector General said in its report, released on May 31, that summed up oversight activities between October 2018 and March 2019.

The OIG cited a February report that said the agency's efforts to help state and local governments secure their election infrastructure with mitigation and threat detection services had been hindered by shifting agency leadership, administrative staff shortages and a lengthy security clearance process.

DHS has not completed plans for establishing metrics to gauge its progress in securing the election infrastructure or for identifying emerging threats and mitigation activities, the report said. It also pointed to state and local officials’ historic mistrust of federal involvement as restricting DHS from providing the help needed to secure the election infrastructure.

DHS responded that its new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was working to remedy those issues by prioritizing hiring operational and administrative staff, developing summary reposts on threats, improving sharing of classified information and increasing its outreach to state and local governments.

A longer version of this article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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