Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

DHS Financial Officer Resigns

In the wake of Katrina, did something not quite smell right?

More on Andy Maner [DHS Bio, appointed Jan 04].

I have little sympathy for DHS's manning, contracting and internal control problems. DHS personnel have enough time to surf the internet during officer hours reading about current events unrelated to DHS. Supposedly you have contractors doing "fine work," but Katrina suggests the DHS SETA management support system is botched. I'd like for there to be some credible explanation why the CFO appears to have little background in auditing, namely GAGAS and GAAS.

Rather than hire someone who needs a high salary, why not split the functions, and appoint a deputy that is an up and coming internal control person -- someone who knows software, auditing, and is a real go getter. They may not have the experience, but you need someone in there who is asking questions, understands development programs, and can give senior management a heads up that there's bullshit on the way.

I'd like the program managers for the specific DHS programs provide a timely briefing to senior management on their personal backgrounds, and ensure that the senior management knows the types of risk areas in each program that the current management teams are weak on. This would be prudent to dovetail with the existing risks DHS IG and GAO have identified. I'm not asking for a miracle. I do want something in place that understands the existing risks; clearly, coming up with a game plan to manage that risk is another matter. But I have little patience when I discover the internal control and software management functions have been farmed out to other contractors who don't have the leverage to hire, fire, and cancel programs. If that's what's needed, let's do it.

Not long ago, we didn't have computers. We need something that is a backup. If you're trying to tell me that -- despite computers -- we've not sufficient funds to pay the people to do what really needs to be done: Say so. I don't want to hear this bullshit about "information technology increasing efficiencies" [read="We don’t have enough money, so instead of experience, we're giving you a computer software mess"] when the results of Katrina blows that non-sense out of the water. We need to know how far we're at risk: Are we outsourcing requirements that DHS needs to manage in house -- and do we have a plan in place to internally train those we have in positions, but are not qualified to perform the oversight, management, or detailed auditing.

I don't want to hear DHS management give us another song and dance about "we're trying" -- their job is to solve this. I want them to tell the Committee where they're going to get bodies -- and how they're going to train them to lead, manage, and credibly make decisions. I don't care if you have to hire someone fresh out of high school. Tell me what it's going to take to get this managed, running, and working. No bullshit.

And if your current management and contractors don’t have a clue about GAAS, then we have big problems. I expect them to open the book read the standards, and physically run through the checklists. This is important. Management needs to put emphasis on this. If you don’t put emphasis, why should the contractors or DHS employees believe you give a rats ass?

* * *

Financial system were getting reworked, with some problems and a schdule slip, but at the time Andy did not issue a contractor cure letter.

Chertoff admitted that it was difficult to find a replacement CFO, and Andy was an internal hire.

DHS IG was referred to as a recess appointment, according to Congressman Platt, John Yoo's state of bar certification. Congressman Waxman [D-CA] is the ranking member of the Government Reform Committee.

The >NYT reports no terror cells in America, but DHS Directive 12 required resources for common badges. Chasing ghosts with nice badges -- meanwhile the internal controls and communication system is crap. Looks like we need another terror alert to distract attention.

It appears as though his experience is not with technical details, nor with specific software management, but with more general business, having earned an MBA from Purdue, prompting questions during his confimration.

Curiosly, at his 2004 confimration hearing, he poitned to the 2002 KMPG internal control audit. Andy asked that they have more time to rview the results. Ahem . . .that smells like a support staff that is admitting they haven't gotten off their rear end, need some financial-audting people for leadership -- someone who knows something about Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, GAAS.

The contracting-software issues are curious in light of DoJ's experience with SAIC Details. What's curious is the DHS-Vinnel connection with Northrup Grummon.

DHS OIG had previously identified internal control problems, as previously discussed.

The resignation comes after Miner published comments on the DHS internal controls:
make reasonable assurances over our internal controls on financial reporting

eMerge is the DHS information system which subsequently failed during Katrina.

This is not the first high profiled resignation in DHS. Ridge resigned amid brewing scandals as did Amit Yoran, in the IT area. To be clear, we're not saying that they've done anything wrong.

In June 2005, in the wake of the Department of Homeland Security Financial Accountability Act ["DHSFAC"], Representative Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) raised Andy's name with Chertoff over the issues of a delay in hiring the new CFO. The law said the DHS needed a CFO within 6th months. As of June, Chertoff hadn't yet interviewed the CFO-designee -- 45 days after the 6th month window in the DHSFAC Ref.

Chertoff cited the personnel turnover issues in DHS Financial Office. The CFO requires Senate Confirmation, requiring a background check and Senate pig-fry.

Other issues discussed included internal controls, and DHS had 15 "material weaknesses."

I guess well see how closely this resignation is to the Katrina problems.

* * *


Problems with contracts? Yes, but unclear whether the issue behind the resigation was software/technical, or a financial issue.

Was there insider peddling?

Did someone know too much?

Was the pressure too high?

SAS 99 -- when there are resignations, there are curious eyes wondering.

Computer System: Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Effectiveness and Efficiency -- there was an internal communcation system which supposedly was keeping DHS mangers up to speed. As evidenced by Katrina and as previosly discussed, something didn't work.

The problem with the DHS inernal communication system -- as with all time-based data-system, is that they fails to integrate with schedules. There's a constant stream of information in a linear-vertical manner; but the program scheudles are horizontal.

Moreover, the infromation isn't weighted in terms of importance; what to do with it; how to prioritize; and whether this is actionable, or merely an isolated trend. Thisi s a problem the FBI has when it deals with NSA data -- a constant stream of data, with little guidance on the signifigance, relevance, or usefulness.

* * *

Here is some Q & A from the November 2005 interchange, where Andy denied manning problems in CFO.