MARK A. FORMAN
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY,
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, AND INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
November 19, 2002
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting
me to discuss the status of the Federal governments IT security.
As you know, year two of the Government Information Security Reform Act
(Security Act) came to a close with the submission of agency and Inspector
General reports in September. For the purposes of todays hearing,
I will provide the Committee with OMBs initial analysis of the Federal
governments IT security progress in fiscal year 2002.
Before I begin, I would like to first acknowledge the significant role you
have played in the last decade on IT issues. Through your leadership we
have all witnessed a substantial increase in attention and efforts to improve
the Federal governments management of IT. You have captured the attention
of senior policy officials across agencies, challenged Administrations,
and as a result have helped to raise focus and understanding of these serious
issues, particularly IT security and Y2K.
We all know that our Federal governments IT security problems are
serious and pervasive. However, I am pleased to report today that while
problems persist, several agencies are demonstrating progress, due in large
part to your leadership.
Government-wide Steps Taken to Improve IT Security
Since the last hearing in March, a number of achievements have been made
toward improving the Federal governments IT security.
Congress with Information Requested for Proper Oversight. The combination
of the Security Act reporting requirements, OMBs reporting instructions,
and agency plans of action and milestones (POA&Ms) have resulted
in a substantial improvement of the accuracy and depth of information
provided to Congress relating to IT security. In addition to IG evaluations,
agencies are now providing the Congress with data from agency POA&Ms
and agency performance against uniform measures.
Developed IT Security Management Performance Measures. OMB
issued updated reporting instructions (M-02-09,
Reporting Instructions for the Government Information Security
Reform Act and Updated Guidance on Security Plans of Action and Milestones)
to Federal agencies which included objective performance measures. Both
agencies and IGs were directed to report the results of their reviews
and independent evaluations against those measures. These measures tie
directly to the IT security requirements in the Security Act.
Developed Government-wide Assessment Tool. The National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a security questionnaire
in 2001 which greatly assisted agencies in performing self-assessments
of their IT systems. This questionnaire was based primarily on NIST
technical guidance and the General Accounting Offices Federal
Information System Controls Audit Manual and allows agencies to assess
the management, operational, and technical controls of their systems.
Agencies were directed through OMB guidance to use this document as
the basis for conducting their annual reviews under the Security Act.
Under NISTs leadership, this questionnaire was automated this
year. Agencies now have a free automated tool to assist them in conducting
their annual reviews. The tool facilitates IT security reviews while
improving the quality of the overall process.
Enforcement of Plans of Action and Milestones. This spring,
OMB met with agencies (CIO and IG office) to discuss the status of and
address deficiencies in their POA&M efforts. Agencies are required
to develop POA&Ms for every program and system where an IT security
weakness has been found. These plans must be developed, implemented,
and managed by the agency official who owns the program or system (program
official or Chief Information Officer (CIO) depending on the system)
where the weakness was found. To ensure successful remediation of security
weaknesses throughout an agency, every agency must maintain a central
process through the CIOs office to monitor agency compliance.
OMB has and will continue to reinforce this policy through the budget
process and the Presidents Management Agenda Scorecard.
Developed Guidance on Reporting IT Security Costs.
OMB, through Circular A-11
on budget preparation and submission, provided agencies additional guidance
in determining IT security costs of their IT investments.
Mature IT Security Management Practices. A handful of agencies
have demonstrated the maturity of their agency-wide plans of action
and milestone (POA&M) process to track and manage remediation of
their IT security weaknesses.
Government-wide IT Security Training Opportunities.
Through the Administrations electronic government initiative,
e-training, IT security courses will be available to all Federal agencies
by December. These initial courses are targeted to CIOs and program
managers, with additional courses to be added for IT security managers,
and the general workforce.
Deployment of E-authentication Capabilities.
The E-Authentication e-government initiative deployed a prototype e-authentication
capability in September. Applications are in the process of being migrated
to this service, which will allow for the sharing of credentials across
government and allows for secure transactions, electronic signatures,
and access controls across government. Potential agencies that will
be using this service include DoEd, USDA/National Finance Center, SSA,
and GSA. The full capability is expected in September 2003.
Government Information Security Reform
Based primarily on agency and IG reports submitted in September, integration
of security into agencies budget processes, and recently updated
and submitted IT security plans of action and milestones, OMB has conducted
an initial assessment of the Federal governments IT security status.
Due to the baseline of agency IT security performance identified last year,
we are now in a position to more accurately determine where progress has
been made and where problems remain.
good news is that for the first time the Federal governments IT
security program now has a basic set of IT security performance measures
and a comprehensive and uniform process for collecting data against those
More Departments are exercising greater oversight over their bureaus.
This year as part of the reporting instructions, agencies were required
to report results at the bureau level;
At many agencies, program officials, CIOs, and IGs are engaged and working
IGs have greatly expanded their work beyond financial systems and related
programs and their efforts have proved invaluable to the process;
More agencies are using their POA&Ms as authoritative management
tools to ensure that program and system level IT security weaknesses,
once identified, are tracked and corrected; and
OMB conditional approval or disapproval of agency IT security programs
resulted in senior executives at most agencies paying greater attention
to IT security at their agencies.
The bad news is that as we predicted in our previous testimony, the more
IT systems that agencies and IGs review, the more security weaknesses
they are likely to find. Our initial analysis reveals that while progress
has been made, there remain significant weaknesses.
agencies find themselves faced with the same security weaknesses year
after year. They lack system level security plans and certifications.
Through the budget process, OMB will assist agencies in prioritizing
and reallocating funds to address these problems;
Some IGs and CIOs have vastly different views of the state of the agencys
security programs. OMB will highlight such discrepancies to agency heads;
Many agencies are not adequately prioritizing their IT investments and
therefore are seeking funding to develop new systems while significant
security weaknesses exist in their legacy systems. OMB will assist agencies
in reprioritizing their resources through the budget process.
Status of Six Common Government-wide IT Security
In the first annual OMB report to Congress on Federal government information
security reform (www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/fy01securityactreport.pdf),
OMB identified six common government-wide IT security weaknesses along with
steps to overcome those weaknesses. I would like to provide you with an
update on efforts related to resolving these weaknesses.
Lack of agency senior management attention to IT security. In
addition to conditionally approving or disapproving agency IT security
programs through private communication between OMB and each agency head,
OMB used the Presidents Management Agenda Scorecard to continue
to focus agency attention on serious IT security weaknesses. Through
the scorecard OMB and senior agency officials monitor agency progress
on a quarterly basis.
Non-existent IT security performance measures.
As I discussed, OMB developed high-level management performance measures
to assist agencies in evaluating their IT security status and the performance
of officials charged with implementing specific requirements of the
Agencies were required to report the results of their
security evaluations and their progress implementing their corrective
action plans according to these performance measures. To ensure that
accountability follows authority, there are measures for both CIOs and
program officials. These measures are mandatory and represent the minimum
metrics against which agencies must track to measure performance and
progress. We encourage agencies to develop additional measures that
address their needs.
Poor security education and awareness.
As discussed above, for one of the Administrations electronic
government initiatives, establishing and delivering electronic-training,
IT security training options will be added and available to all Federal
agencies in December.
Failure to fully fund and integrate security into capital planning
and investment control. OMB continues to aggressively address this
issue through the budget process, to ensure that adequate security is
incorporated directly into and funded over the life cycle of all systems
and programs before funding is approved. Through this process agencies
can demonstrate explicitly how much they are spending on security and
associate that spending with a given level of performance. As a result,
Federal agencies will be far better equipped to determine what funding
is necessary to achieve improved performance.
Agencies have made improvements in integrating security
into new IT investments. However, significant problems remain in regards
to ensuring security of legacy systems.
Failure to ensure that contractor services are adequately secure.
Through the OMB Committee on Executive Branch Information Systems Security,
an issue group was created to review this problem and develop recommendations
for its resolution, to include addressing how security is handled in
contracts themselves. We are working with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory
Council to develop for government-wide use a clause to ensure security
is addressed as appropriate in contracts.
Lack of detecting, reporting, and sharing information on vulnerabilities.
Early warning for the entire Federal community starts first with detection
by individual agencies, not incident response centers at the FBI, GSA,
DOD, or elsewhere. The latter can only know what is reported to them,
reporting can only come from detection. It is critical that agencies
and their components report all incidents in a timely manner to GSAs
Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC) and appropriate
law enforcement authorities such as the FBIs National Infrastructure
Protection Center as required by the Security Act.
GSA recently awarded a contract on patch management. Through
this work FedCIRC will be able to disseminate patches to all agencies
more effectively. In addition, OMB recently issued guidance to agencies
on reporting to FedCIRC, stressing the necessity for accurate and timely
reporting while also leveraging an e-business approach that facilitates
A summary of each agencys security status will
be included in the annual OMB report to Congress. We plan on issuing this
report in the same timeframe as the Presidents budget.
While OMB can and will continue to assist agencies with
their efforts in addressing their security weaknesses, both the responsibility
and ability to fix these weaknesses and others, ultimately lie with agencies.
IGs, OMB, and GAO cannot do it for them.
Areas for Additional Attention
OMB, the Presidents Critical Infrastructure Protection
Board, the Federal agencies, and others are also addressing a number of
other significant IT security issues.
The Administration strives to ensure that any disruptions
to Federal IT systems are infrequent, of minimal duration, manageable,
and cause the least damage possible. In that regard, we essentially are
addressing two types of threats -- organized (i.e., sophisticated nation
states, terrorist, and criminal) and ad hoc (i.e., common hackers of varying
levels of sophistication).
Regardless of their level of sophistication (i.e., organized
or ad hoc), an attacker can easily exploit numerous vulnerabilities found
in today's commercial software products. Some experts estimate that as
many as 95% of today's successful attacks exploit these commonly known
flaws and most use widely available automated tools to do so. Simple adjustments
to out-of-the-box software configurations correct many vulnerabilities
and corrective patches are widely available for many others.
We will assure that Federal agencies undertake effective
system management practices. This includes tools and training to ensure
the timely deployment and continued maintenance of security of IT systems.
We are also addressing the out-of-the-box configuration issue. Recently
a consortium of Federal agencies and private organizations released security
configuration guides for the Windows 2000 operating system. FedCIRC has
arranged for download and distribution of the Windows 2000 security testing
tool for all Federal civilian agencies.
Countering sophisticated organized threats is far more
complex. Many experts consider hostile nation-states and terrorists to
pose the greatest threat to the security and reliability of Federal IT
systems. This threat is often associated with the threat of physical attack,
and could be used to disrupt government coordination and communication
in time of emergency.
The development of a government-wide enterprise architecture
is a central part of the Administrations IT management and electronic
government efforts. Establishment of an architecture for the Federal government
will greatly facilitate more rational IT investment decisions and electronic
government. Accordingly, the Administration will be able to better prioritize
and fund the Federal governments security needs.
Experts agree that it is virtually impossible to ensure
perfect security of IT systems. Therefore in addition to constant vigilance
on IT security we require agencies to maintain business continuity plans.
OMB directed all large agencies to undertake a Project Matrix review to
ensure appropriate continuity of operations planning in case of an event
that would impact IT infrastructure. Project Matrix was developed by the
Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO)of the Department of Commerce.
A Matrix review identifies the critical assets within an agency, prioritizes
them, and then identifies interrelationships with other agencies or the
private sector. This is largely a vertical view of agency functions. To
ensure that all critical government processes and assets have been identified,
once reviews have been completed at each large agency, CIAO and OMB will
identify cross-government activities and lines of business for Matrix
reviews. In this way the Executive Branch will have identified key needs
in both vertical and horizontal continuity of operations.
More and more, individual agencies and other organizations
have improved means to protect themselves from more sophisticated attackers.
Until recently, commercial firewalls and intrusion detection systems primarily
defended only against known attacks. New products filter out actions outside
normal use, e.g., those activities that are inconsistent with authorized
technical rules established by systems administrators. Thus
even a previously unknown threat can potentially be stopped. We expect
that, as it has in the past, the market will continue to produce solutions
to security problems.
Among our high-level challenges is identifying the security
gaps between agencies with interconnected lines of business. In addition
to Project Matrix and the development of the enterprise architecture as
a means to address these potential gaps, we will continue to look for
other methods as well, through OMBs Committee on Executive Branch
Information Systems Security and the CIO Council.
Again Mr. Chairman, I would like to express the Administrations
appreciation for your untiring leadership on IT security.
For the first time, through the reporting requirements
of the Security Act and agency POA&Ms, we are able to point to real
progress in closing the Federal governments IT security performance
gaps. While progress has been made both at the government-wide program
level as well as within a number of agencies, serious weaknesses, and
in some cases repeating weaknesses remain. Failure to meet basic security
requirement such as system plans and certifications leaves us with simply
unacceptable risks. Our challenge this year is to dramatically build upon
this progress to ensure that the Federal governments IT investments
are appropriately secured.