OIG: CISA should validate performance data for priority telecom services

In response to a complaint to the hotline, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review to determine whether the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was effectively supporting usable and interoperable emergency communications for federal officials. , state, local, tribal and territorial. critical infrastructure operators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OIG found that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), within DHS, effectively ensured that its Priority Telecommunications Services (PTS) program was operational at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hotline’s complaint related to a failure in telecommunications connectivity and largely untested telecommunications services. However, OIG was able to confirm that the disconnection was an isolated event and that the telecommunications service provider has developed a technical solution to prevent the problem from reoccurring. In addition, the watchdog found that CISA conducts periodic testing and coordinates mock testing of priority telecommunications services.

The OIG also determined that although CISA measures the performance of two of its priority telecommunications services, it does not have an adequate process in place to validate its performance data. As a result, CISA may report inaccurate information or misrepresent the effectiveness of its PTS program in its quarterly report to the DHS Chief Financial Officer.

The Inspector General therefore recommended that CISA implement a process to validate the reliability of the data. CISA agreed, and officials from the agency’s Emergency Communications Division agreed that there was a need to strengthen existing documentation and communications related to the quality control process for data validation. According to officials, the Division is in the process of ensuring that all stages of the quality control process are well understood throughout the PTS program. Additionally, the Emergency Communications Division is committed to automating the process to reduce administrative burden and increase accuracy for those performing the validation steps. However, division officials told the OIG that they do not believe additional testing or data validation is required. Managers believe it is better to strengthen existing processes, which is more cost-effective. CISA also noted that modernizing the process will not happen overnight. A plan is being developed to document requirements and identify which applications and process improvements can be streamlined. This effort involves a holistic examination of how PTS program data is transmitted, received, processed, stored and reported. Although this effort has already begun, a concurrent effort focused on training appropriate personnel on the current data validation and quality control process is underway.

Read the full report on OIG

Sean B. Jackson