Information technology investment and financial management continue to rank high on the Treasury Department's list of management challenges, according to a new report by the agency's inspector general. The report on Treasury's management challenges for 2001 was written in response to an October request from the Senate Budget and Governmental Affairs committees and the House Budget and Government Reform committees. High-risk areas identified by the inspector general included information security, IT investment management, compliance with the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act and financial management. These areas also appeared on last year's list. Only one new challenge, managing the safety and soundness of the banking industry, was added to this year's list. "While Treasury has made substantive progress to address these challenges, we are not able to remove any from our list because each continues to present a serious risk," said Treasury IG Jeffrey Rush Jr. in a letter to House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas. IG audits uncovered significant weaknesses in computer security systems operated by the Customs Service and the Financial Management Service. In the coming year, Customs needs to improve computer safeguards and reconsider the organization of its systems security structure, the report said. The IG will also continue to monitor Customs' $2 billion, 10-15 year modernization project. Customs' new computer system, the Automated Commercial Environment, will replace the agency's outdated Automated Commercial System (ACS), upgrading computer systems at ports and offices across the nation. ACS experiences frequent brownouts that can delay trade at over 300 ports of entry operated by Customs. Development and funding problems have dogged the new computer system from the start. The fiscal 2001 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill
contained $130 million for the new system-$80 million less than Customs requested. Treasury is also having trouble producing reliable performance data. Such data are used to report on how well the agency and its departments are meeting their missions under the 1993 Results Act. Collecting and managing reliable data will be another goal for 2001, the report said.