Bureau of the Public Debt:

Areas for Improvement in Information Security Controls

GAO-07-899R: Published: Jun 14, 2007. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 2007.

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In connection with fulfilling our requirement to audit the financial statements of the U.S. government, we audited and reported on the Schedules of Federal Debt Managed by the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD) for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2006 and 2005. As part of these audits, we performed a review of the general and application information security controls over key BPD financial systems. In our audit report on the Schedules of Federal Debt for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2006 and 2005, we concluded that BPD maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control relevant to the Schedule of Federal Debt related to financial reporting and compliance with applicable laws and regulations as of September 30, 2006, that provided reasonable assurance that misstatements, losses, or noncompliance material in relation to the Schedule of Federal Debt would be prevented or detected on a timely basis. We found matters involving information security controls that we do not consider to be reportable conditions but that nevertheless warrant BPD management's attention and action. BPD mitigated the potential effect of such issues with physical security measures, a program of monitoring user and system activity, and compensating management and reconciliation controls. This report presents the issues identified during our fiscal year 2006 testing of the general and application information security controls that support key BPD automated financial systems relevant to BPD's Schedule of Federal Debt. This report also includes the results of our follow-up on the status of BPD's corrective actions to address recommendations that were contained in our prior years' audits and open as of September 30, 2005. In a separately issued Limited Official Use Only report, we communicated detailed information regarding our findings to BPD management. We also assessed the general and application information security controls over key BPD financial systems that the Federal Reserve Banks (FRB) maintain and operate on behalf of BPD. We have communicated the results of such testing to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Our fiscal year 2006 audit procedures identified eight new information security control issues, of which seven relate to general controls and the other to an application control. Specifically, the general information security control issues were in the areas of entitywide security program planning and management, access control, application software development and change control, and system software. The application information security control issue relates to the reporting of unusual activity. In the Limited Official Use Only report, we made eight recommendations to address these issues. During our follow-up on the status of BPD's corrective actions to address 11 open recommendations related to information security control issues identified in prior years' audits for which actions were not complete as of September 30, 2005, we found the following. As of September 30, 2006, corrective action on 8 of the 11 recommendations had been completed. Corrective action was in progress as of September 30, 2006, on the three remaining open recommendations, which relate to access controls.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In connection with our audits of the fiscal years 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 Schedules of Federal Debt, we reviewed the status of actions taken to address the open information security control recommendations at the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD) data center identified during our prior years' audits. As detailed in separate accomplishments, we found that BPD management had taken steps to implement the eight recommendations and strengthen its information security controls.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Bureau of the Public Debt should direct the appropriate BPD officials to implement the eight new detailed recommendations set forth in the separately issued Limited Official Use Only version of this report.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of the Public Debt

 

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