U.S. Department of Education: Investigation of the CIO

Hearing Date: February 2, 2016 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

0202 Investigation Ed CIO

TAKEAWAYS:

  • The Department of Education’s (ED) Chief Information Officer (CIO) Danny Harris received substantial bonuses despite poor performance in securing IT systems at the Agency and significant ethical lapses in judgment.
  • Despite the IG’s evidence to the contrary, Acting Secretary King asserted that Mr. Harris did not violate any law, regulation, policy, or standard of ethical conduct.
  • Mr. Harris testified his home theatre installation and car detailing activities were “hobbies” and not businesses. The IG testified that these activities qualified as businesses.
  • It was in excess of two years before ED responded to the IG’s initial report of findings and referral for administrative action.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to prosecute the IG’s criminal referral and deferred to ED leadership for action. Acting Sec. King deemed verbal counseling and a three-page ethics guidance letter as appropriate consequences.

PURPOSE:

  • To review the state and security of the Department’s information systems. 
  • To examine the conduct of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Danny Harris.

BACKGROUND:

  •  On November 17, 2015, the Committee held a hearing to examine:
    • The state of information technology at the Education Department;           
    •  Its compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the Federal Information Technology Reform Act (FITARA), and the recommendations of the inspector general (IG).
  • During the hearing, the Committee learned the Education Department:
    • Holds 139 million unique Social Security numbers;
    • Continues to be “vulnerable to security threats” according to the IG, and has repeat findings in annually-required FISMA audits;
    • Failed to detect a penetration test of its systems conducted by the IG during its FY2015 FISMA audit;
    • Received an “F” on the Committee’s FITARA scorecard
  • Following the hearing, the Committee received additional information concerning conduct of the CIO. 

KEY VIDEOS:

Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT):“You see no ethical problem with somebody who oversees, and supervises the personnel who have to implement these contracts, with them personally going and installing home theater equipment to a company that I’m guessing makes millions of dollars from those contracts?”

 Rep. John Mica (R-FL):“Who approved the bonuses, even while he [Mr. Harris] is under investigation? There should at least be a suspension of the bonuses.”

 Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): “54 software programs that you using are not supported by the vendor, why is that?”

 

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Mr. Danny A. Harris Ph.D. Chief Information Officer U.S. Department of Education Document
Ms. Sandra Bruce Deputy Inspector General U.S. Department of Education Document
Ms. Susan Winchell Assistant General Counsel for Ethics U.S. Department of Education Document
Mr. John B. King Jr. Acting Secretary U.S. Department of Education Document

Related Documents

Name Document
Memo to CIO Danny Harris on Ethics Guidance Document
Best Places to Work Categories for Dept of Edu Document
Memo to Aaron Jordan on Danny Harris Investigation Document