The PJ Tatler

DOE Watchdog Finds Security Problems In Stimulus-Backed Power Grid Upgrade

Many people think that America’s electrical grid is vulnerable to terrorist attack, including a Congressional panel and CIA Director Leon Panetta. That’s why the Department of Energy received $3.5 billion from the 2009 stimulus package, to try to reduce that vulnerability.

However, the DOE’s own Inspector General has serious concerns about the companies that DOE contracted with to do the job:

In a January report, the inspector general for the Energy Department found “shortcomings” in those recipients’ cybersecurity plans.

Though the projects are still being developed, the report noted that “existing gaps … could allow system compromise before controls are implemented.”

In one instance, the report said an unnamed recipient had never conducted a “formal risk assessment” — without which, “threats and weaknesses may go unidentified and expose the recipient’s systems to an unacceptable level of risk.”

The IG report said 36 of the 99 cybersecurity plans were “lacking” in at least one area. Though the Energy Department told the recipients to update their plans, the report found “the initial weaknesses had not always been addressed.”

The report did not detail where exactly each company ran afoul of the guidelines, but said the cybersecurity plans are supposed to show how the recipients would prevent, detect and respond to security problems. The inspector general’s office found three of the five cybersecurity plans it reviewed were “incomplete” and did not always explain how their security controls would be carried out.

But fear not! The government bureaucrats are on top of… finding excuses for their poor performance.

“The issues we found were due, in part, to the accelerated planning, development, and deployment approach adopted by the Department for the SGIG program,” the report said. “We also found that the Department was so focused on quickly disbursing Recovery Act funds that it had not ensured personnel received adequate grants management training.”

Since the report didn’t name company names, it’s impossible to tell if donors to Democrats were given preference for these stimulus funds, but given numerous reports of this sort of thing in the Obama Administration (like this one, and this one, and this one), it certainly seems something that should be looked into. Perhaps Chairman Issa of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform could look into it, or if he’s got his hands full with Gunwalker, perhaps Chairman Upton of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce could take a look… though given Upton’s flirtation with “climate change” and “carbon emitters,” and his support for the incandescent light bulb ban, I’m not certain Upton is the man I’d really want looking into this.

(AP image from FoxNews.com story)