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Tech Industry

Report raps Homeland Security for muddled IT

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is plagued by computer systems that are incompatible and bereft of oversight by the department's chief information officer, according to a GAO report.

Nearly 15 months after its creation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is plagued by computer systems that are incompatible and bereft of oversight by the department's chief information officer (CIO), according to a new government report. The General Accounting Office said Monday that the CIO enjoys no "explicit authority" over spending on information technology and has received only 65 of the 163 employees he requested--even though he is responsible for developing the electronic nervous system of a sprawling organization that employs about 170,000 people.

When President Bush signed the law creating the Homeland Security department, he glued together 22 existing federal agencies--including the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Coast Guard--that used about 700 different computer systems. Monday's report indicates that those individual agencies have been reluctant to relinquish authority to the CIO, and it recommends that technology spending be curbed until a "management framework is completed and available to effectively guide and constrain the billions of dollars" that might otherwise be wasted.