TSP Told to Tighten Security at Data Centers

Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock.com

The agency overseeing billions of dollars in federal employees’ retirement assets needs to tighten security at its data centers, according to a new audit.

The Labor Department and accounting firm KPMG found certain lapses related to obtaining physical access to facilities that house Thrift Savings Plan information and technology systems. Specifically, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers the 401(k)-type account for federal employees, did not provide evidence of management authorization for individuals with access to the primary and alternate data centers during the audit, and auditors found that one individual out of 25 with physical access to the TSP’s alternate data center retained that access after separation.

The TSP agency also lacked written procedures for data center access until September 2013, the audit stated. The wide-ranging performance audit, which included the analysis of the agency’s security controls, as well as contingency and business continuity plans in case of disaster, looked at operations from Oct. 17, 2012, to Feb. 21, 2013, and again from Nov. 18, 2013, through Jan. 10, 2014.

“By not reviewing, approving, and disabling physical access, an increased risk exists that individuals may have unnecessary or inappropriate access to TSP systems and data, putting the agency at risk of inadvertent or deliberate disclosure, modification or destruction of data,” stated the March 2014 audit, presented by Labor and KPMG officials during the board’s monthly meeting in Washington on Monday.

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board agreed with auditors’ recommendations to shore up security related to the physical access to the two TSP data centers. “The deputy chief technology officer for infrastructure and operations has established a requirement for periodic review of physical access at all data centers in accordance with policy, and is documenting and retaining evidence of authorization,” said the board’s Executive Director Gregory Long, in a written response to the audit.

Auditors also recommended that the board develop stronger disaster recovery planning, and do a better job documenting business continuity procedures. The FRTIB said it will work with a contractor on developing and implementing a business continuity plan in accordance with federal guidelines, and will create and implement a written cyber incident response plan by Sept. 30, 2014. The TSP agency already has implemented a data replication program to protect TSP information.

The TSP is an “enormously large financial institution,” said Ian Dingwall, chief accountant at Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, during his presentation of the audit findings on Monday. The numbers bear that out: as of March 2014, TSP assets were more than $405 billion, and Roth balances totaled more than $1.2 billion. The rate of participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System had increased to 87.1 percent and the participation rate for active duty members rose to 41.1 percent by the end of last month.

Overall, the Labor/KPMG audit of the TSP board’s management was positive, and Dingwall noted the “pretty healthy relationship” his team has with the board’s current staff, whom he praised for their cooperation and professionalism. FRTIB undergoes multiple audits of its management and operations, including an in-house review.

FRTIB has the “resources and people” now that it didn’t have three years ago to implement auditors’ recommendations and improve operations, Long said during the meeting.

(Image via Maksim Kabakou /Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.