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DHS OIG — Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Has Taken Steps To Address Insider Threat, but Challenges Remain

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Has Taken Steps To Address Insider Threat, but Challenges Remain
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

We reviewed the efforts of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) to address the risk posed by trusted insiders. Our objective was to assess DNDO’s progress toward protecting its information technology assets from threats posed by its employees, especially those with trusted or elevated access to sensitive, but unclassified information systems or data.

Steps are underway to address and mitigate the insider risk at DNDO. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Under Secretary of Intelligence and Analysis established an Insider Threat Task Force to develop a program to address the risk of insider threats for DHS, including DNDO. In addition, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis has detailed a counterintelligence officer to DNDO to help mitigate espionage‐related insider risks. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis routinely briefs DNDO on counterintelligence awareness, including insider threat indicators. In addition, DNDO provides security awareness training to its employees and contractors regarding security‐related topics that could help prevent or detect the insider risk. In September 2013, the DHS Office of the Chief Security Officer began a comprehensive vulnerability assessment of DNDO assets, which includes identifying insider risks and vulnerabilities. The DHS Security Operations Center monitors DNDO information systems and networks to respond to potential insider based incidents. Finally, the DHS Special Security Programs Division handles and investigates security incidents, including those types attributed to malicious insiders.

Additional steps to address the insider risk at DNDO are required. Specifically, DNDO needs to implement insider threat procedures, upon receipt of policy issued by the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) that defines roles and responsibilities for addressing insider risks to unclassified networks and systems. DNDO also needs to provide documentation that clearly shows the effectiveness of controls or processes in place to detect and respond to unauthorized data exfiltration from DNDO unclassified information technology assets via email services provided by the DHS OCIO.

DNDO can strengthen processes and controls for its own technology infrastructure. They can disable portable media ports on controlled information technology assets where there is no legitimate business need. DNDO can apply critical security patches to these assets and perform periodic security assessments of controlled sites to identify any indication of unauthorized wireless devices or connections to DHS networks.

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New From the GAO

July 2, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Climate Change Adaptation: DOD Can Improve Infrastructure Planning and Processes to Better Account for Potential Impacts. GAO-14-446, May 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-446
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663733.pdf

2. Prescription Drugs: Comparison of DOD, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D Retail Reimbursement Prices. GAO-14-578, June 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-578
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664522.pdf

3. Nuclear Security: NNSA Should Establish a Clear Vision and Path Forward for Its Security Program. GAO-14-208,May 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-208
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663746.pdf

New From the GAO

June 23, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. DOD Financial Management: The Defense Finance and Accounting Service Needs to Fully Implement Financial Improvements for Contract Pay. GAO-14-10, June 23.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-10
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664319.pdf

2. Telecommunications: USDA Should Evaluate the Performance of the Rural Broadband Loan Program. GAO-14-471,May 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-471
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663577.pdf

3. Medicaid: Financial Characteristics of Approved Applicants and Methods Used to Reduce Assets to Qualify for Nursing Home Coverage. GAO-14-473, May 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-473
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663416.pdf

4. Advanced Reactor Research: DOE Supports Multiple Technologies, but Actions Needed to Ensure a Prototype Is Built. GAO-14-545, June 23.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-545
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664297.pdf

5. VA Spina Bifida Program: Outreach to Key Stakeholders and Written Guidance for Claims Audit Follow-up Activities Needed. GAO-14-564, June 23.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-564
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664304.pdf

6. Debt Management: Floating Rate Notes Can Help Treasury Meet Borrowing Goals, but Additional Actions Are Needed to Help Manage Risk. GAO-14-535, June 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-535
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664107.pdf

Related Product

Debt Management: Survey of Investors in Treasury Securities (GAO-14-562SP, June 16, 2014), an E-supplement to GAO-14-535. GAO-14-562SP, June 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-562SP

CRS — U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues

May 27, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Even though the United States plans to reduce the number of warheads deployed on its longrange missiles and bombers, consistent with the terms of the New START Treaty, it also plans to develop new delivery systems for deployment over the next 20-30 years. The 113th Congress will continue to review these programs during the annual authorization and appropriations process.

New From the GAO

May 15, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Export Controls: NASA Management Action and Improved Oversight Needed to Reduce the Risk of Unauthorized Access to Its Technologies. GAO-14-315, April 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-315
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662560.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662975

2. F-22 Modernization: Cost and Schedule Transparency Is Improved, Further Visibility into Reliability Efforts Is Needed. GAO-14-425, May 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-425
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663197.pdf

3. National Nuclear Security Administration: Agency Report to Congress on Potential Efficiencies Does Not Include Key Information. GAO-14-434, May 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-434
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663220.pdf

4. Biological Defense: DOD Has Strengthened Coordination on Medical Countermeasures but Can Improve Its Process for Threat Prioritization. GAO-14-442, May 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-442
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663213.pdf

5. International Labor Grants: Labor Should Improve Management of Key Award Documentation. GAO-14-493, May 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-493
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663202.pdf

6. Financial Audit: Congressional Award Foundation’s Fiscal Years 2013 and 2012 Financial Statements. GAO-14-540, May 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-540

Testimony

1. VA Health Care: VA Lacks Accurate Information about Outpatient Medical Appointment Wait Times, Including Specialty Care Consults, by Debra A. Draper, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-620T, May 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-620T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663194.pdf

CRS — Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Plant and Plutonium Disposition: Management and Policy Issues

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Plant and Plutonium Disposition: Management and Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) in South Carolina has been a key component of the current U.S. strategy for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium from the Cold War. That strategy called for the surplus plutonium, in oxide form, to be blended with uranium oxide to make mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for U.S. commercial nuclear reactors. The plutonium in MOX fuel would be mostly destroyed in the reactors by fission (splitting into other isotopes). At the same time, isotopes of plutonium undesirable for weapons would be created, along with highly radioactive fission products. As a result, after several years in a reactor, spent MOX fuel would have less total plutonium than when it was freshly loaded, and the remaining plutonium would be degraded for weapons purposes. Moreover, the fission products would make the material difficult to handle, in case of future attempts to use the plutonium.

Because of sharply rising cost estimates for the MOX project, the Obama Administration is proposing to place MFFF in “cold standby” and study other plutonium disposition options. The federal plutonium disposition program is run by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semiautonomous agency of the Department of Energy (DOE). NNSA estimated in 2002 that MFFF would cost about $1 billion to design and build. DOE said in its budget justification for FY2014 that the MFFF contractor had estimated the project’s total construction cost would rise to $7.78 billion, and that construction would not be completed until November 2019. DOE’s FY2015 budget justification said the life-cycle cost estimate for the MOX program had risen to $30 billion.

CRS — Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations

May 8, 2014 Comments off

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In 2002, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began investigating allegations that Iran had conducted clandestine nuclear activities. Ultimately, the agency reported that some of these activities had violated Tehran’s IAEA safeguards agreement. The IAEA has not stated definitively that Iran has pursued nuclear weapons, but has also not yet been able to conclude that the country’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The IAEA Board of Governors referred the matter to the U.N. Security Council in February 2006. Since then, the council has adopted six resolutions, the most recent of which (Resolution 1929) was adopted in June 2010.

The Security Council has required Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA’s investigation of its nuclear activities, suspend its uranium enrichment program, suspend its construction of a heavywater reactor and related projects, and ratify the Additional Protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. However, Tehran has continued to defy the council’s demands by continuing work on its uranium enrichment program and heavy-water reactor program. Iran has signed, but not ratified, its Additional Protocol. Tehran has limited and reversed some aspects of these programs’ progress since the government began implementing a November 2013 Joint Plan of Action between Iran and China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Iran and the IAEA agreed in August 2007 on a work plan to clarify the outstanding questions regarding Tehran’s nuclear program. Most of these questions have essentially been resolved, but the agency still has questions regarding “possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear programme. The IAEA has reported for some time that it has not been able to make progress on these matters.

This report provides a brief overview of Iran’s nuclear program and describes the legal basis for the actions taken by the IAEA board and the Security Council. It will be updated as events warrant.

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