FEMA Blasted For IT Systems Overhaul Waste - InformationWeek
Government // Enterprise Architecture
01:07 PM
Connect Directly
[Cybersecurity] Costs, Risks, & Benefits
Feb 28, 2017
How much should your organization spend on information security? What's the potential cost of a ma ...Read More>>

FEMA Blasted For IT Systems Overhaul Waste

Inspector General report finds delays, lack of oversight by IT leadership, and questionable ethical behavior at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For example, a former Optimal Solutions employee was chosen to oversee Optimal Solutions' performance only a year after leaving the company. That employee gave upbeat risk assessments and assurances that the system was ready to go, despite the fact that, as later analyses found, the system had not been fully tested, business logic documentation remained incomplete, and the system lacked approval from FEMA's IT security team.

Furthermore, 14 former CSC employees were working on the transition. These employees apparently retained close ties with their former employer, referring to themselves as "we" at internal meetings, sharing internal communications with CSC employees, and even siding with CSC on disputes between FEMA and CSC.

These problems might reach back several years. Even CSC's legacy system was found to have deficiencies in its IT security, and a FEMA IT security official told the inspector general that this is because the program office neither had necessary expertise nor ever sought help from FEMA's IT security office.

Ultimately, this cross pollination also led to divisiveness between employees who favored CSC and those who favored Optimal Solutions. "This division made managing the contracts difficult because the contracting officer could not trust his contracting officer's technical representatives to give him objective insights into the companies' abilities to perform under the contracts," the report says.

For example, unauthorized meetings between the contractors and NFIP prevented the contracting officer from determining if either contractor was in breach of its contract, and received reports from both camps blaming the other for poor performance.

In the end, FEMA terminated Optimal Solutions' contract and fired the former Optimal Solutions employee who had overseen the contractor's performance. In addition, new Department of Homeland Security directives require FEMA's CIO to review and approve IT acquisitions costing more than $2.5 million, so some of the oversight problems should be things of the past.

However, the inspector general recommended a number of additional changes, including additional ethics training for NFIP employees and ensuring that all new FEMA IT systems development is done hand-in-hand with FEMA's CIO.

2 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Annual IT Salary Report 
Base pay for IT professionals has remained flat this year with a median annual salary of $88,000 for staff and $112,000 for management. However, 58% of staff and 62% of managers who responded to our survey say they're satisfied with their compensation. Download this report to find out which positions earn the highest compensation.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll