It appears the Department of Homeland Security did not adhere to its most basic safety procedures of eliminating security credentials for thousands of its former employees, according to a disclosure by an internal watchdog in a report published Thursday.
In other words, this news means that the federal agency tasked with shielding America from cyber and terrorist attacks left its own system open to potentially massive security breaches by neglecting to delete the access of personal identity verification (PIV) cards or end security clearances.
Allegations of gross oversight by DHS staff have been made for other reasons before. Just a few years ago, the agency faced a lawsuit for the alleged failures in protecting children.
“There is a risk that individuals who no longer require access to systems and facilities could circumvent controls and enter DHS buildings and controlled areas,” cautioned the watchdog.
Read the full report here.
The DHS inspector journal alleged that the agency violated federal regulations and department policies. He additionally said that warnings were made about the problems back in 2018 but were ultimately not heeded.
“DHS has not prioritized ensuring that PIV cards are terminated when individuals no longer require access,” read the report.
“We determined that, in thousands of cases, DHS did not promptly revoke PIV card access privileges or destroy PIV cards of individuals who separated from the Department.”
“In addition, DHS did not always promptly withdraw security clearances of individuals who separated from DHS. Unfortunately, we could not determine the exact magnitude of the problem because records in DHS’ information systems were incomplete.”
Certain members of the House have called the practices of the DHS into question before. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) called for the impeachment of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last month, arguing that he “failed to faithfully uphold his oath and has instead presided over a reckless abandonment of border security and immigration enforcement,” and did so at “the expense of the Constitution and the security of the United States.”
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas must be impeached.
He has failed to faithfully uphold his oath and has instead presided over a reckless abandonment of border security and immigration enforcement, at the expense of the Constitution and the security of the United States.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 29, 2022
The watchdog concluded that malpractice by the DHS means that it is unable to “ensure only authorized employees and contractors have access to its controlled systems and facilities.”