By Rob Thormeyer
The Interior Department is looking for new ways to illustrate how
agencies are complying with the Federal Information Systems Management
Act, a key official said yesterday.
Hord Tipton, the agencys CIO, said his office has been consulting with
Interiors inspector general about how to create metrics that consider
broader methods of whether and how agencies are meeting FISMA
We need to do something different than just checking boxes to denote
FISMA compliance, Tipton said at a breakfast Tuesday sponsored by the
annual Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Associations
Bethesda, Md., chapter.
FISMA reform is a hot topic right now, and Tom Davis, House Government
Reform chairman, has already offered legislation to shore up and bolster
the governments information security policies.
Under the act, agencies must report to Congress on their cybersecurity
efforts, and these scores are tabulated by Davis committee. In its most
recent report card, the government overall received a D-plus.
In his comments, Tipton echoed concerns raised by several federal
officials earlier this year that FISMA is evolving into little more than
a check-the-box exercise that focuses on granular details and not the
bigger picture of how agencies are deterring cyberattacks.
Tipton noted that his agency did not score well on the most recent
report card but said Interiors cybersecurity has never been stronger.
We look at FISMA and I noted that we fended off four billion probes,
scans, attacks last year without any significant breaches, Tipton said
after his speech. It doesnt show up in the FISMA report. What shows up
in FISMA is, Did I do all my paperwork? Did I do the annual reviews?
That is important, Im not discounting that, but there needs to be some
balance as to whats working.
Interior has been in contact with the National Institute of Standards
and Technology and the National Security Agency as well as other groups
like the SANS Institute of Bethesda, Md., to discuss its ideas, Tipton
If the groups can reach agreement on a few new metrics, Tipton said they
hope to meet with the Office of Management and Budget as well.
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