Let’s go back to 2001 and do a little math:
Huge IT contract + Politicians + Lobbyists + Soft IT market + Legions of government contractors + Newly created government agency + More politicians + Career civil servants
What does that make? A hugely expensive, difficult, political and organizational undertaking, and plenty of scope for fingerpointing — and that’s what we’ve got.
Full disclosure here: I was working for Unisys for the first three years of this contract, and only a non-US passport kept me from working on this engagement (and believe me I thanked my lucky stars every morning when I woke up that I wasn’t).
I’m not a huge Unisys defender in general — I saw plenty of gaffes from the sidelines, and like any large systems integrator Unisys has its fair share of inefficiencies and dead wood — but Unisys is being accused of everything under the sun, from covering up the problems, to kicking puppies and being mean to its gradmother. I’m just not convinced anyone else would’ve done much better — and has anyone noticed the alarming regularity with which government agencies blame their contractors compared to their commercial counterparts?
Let’s just point out a couple of things from the Washington Post article, in 2005, "[Unisys] said, under the follow-on contract, ‘DHS, citing lack of funding, elected to stop paying for security monitoring services,’ but that the firm continued to provide the monitoring anyway."
Also, it states — "The contractor also allegedly falsely certified that the network had been protected to cover up its lax oversight, according to the committee." So you’re telling me Unisys said the network was completely secure? I doubt that very much.
Let’s not get too excited here, we’re talking about a sophisticated hack on unclassified data, yet we’re told "senior DHS officials failed to recognize the situation’s gravity" — or did they just treat it with the risk level it warranted?
Seems to me like some politician has got wind of a storm in a teacup, and everyone has had to jump to attention.