CIO of DHS is Qualified -- to Inspect Meat

Friday, June 22, 2007 at 10:29 AM

The Department of Homeland Security has had a large number of security breaches over the last recorded period. Chief Information Officer Scott Charbo comes from a background in ... . agriculture. Why is someone with a degree in biology running the DHS IT department?

I'm a geek. Always have been. In the interest of full disclosure, I work in the IT industry doing web development for the LAMP platform (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). Being the curious type, I was tooling around the DHS Website this morning seeing how terrified I should be (Orange, so I'm mildly hysterical, as is my patriotic duty).

I came across the biography and qualifications of Mr. Scott Charbo, Chief Information Officer of DHS. I read this first, which seems the default for any CIO:

Charbo is focused on integrating new and existing sources of essential homeland security information in full compliance with our broader values of privacy, civil liberties, and openness. Additionally, cyber security, infrastructure improvements, and IT management are his emphasis.

Which, while grammatically incorrect, seems excellent. He's interested in our civil liberties as an afterthought to essential homeland security information. Then I read this:

Charbo was the Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from August 2002, until coming to DHS in June 2005. Charbo was responsible for the overall management of USDA's information resources and IT assets, overseeing more than 4,000 IT professionals and $1.7 billion in physical assets. He was also responsible for the Department’s overhaul of eGovernment initiatives and results in alpha security improvements.

And I thought, "Could this be it? Have I found the only qualified Bush appointee in the entire Federal Government?" This would have been a major story, finding someone qualified for an important position in the government. If he came from a three-year history as a CIO, then he's probably qualified, I thought.

Right. Next paragraph:

Charbo served as the USDA's Farm Service Agency director of the Office of Business and Program Integration from July until August 2002. He was responsible for planning, developing and administering the agency's programs and policies and provided direction in the areas of economic and policy analysis, appeals and litigation, strategic management and corporate operations, outreach programs and strategic planning, and leadership in the Agency's citizen-centered eGovernment initiatives.

Wait, Farm Agency Director? What the hell? How do you go from being the Farm Agency Director to CIO? There must be something in his history or work experience that qualifies him for a jump like that, right? There has to be something this guy has done that would make his appointment as a CIO a little less farcical.

And then it comes:

Before joining USDA, Charbo was the president of mPower3, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of ConAgra Foods Company from 1998 to 2002. From 1993 to 1997, he was Director of the Environmental and Regulatory Services for Tri-State Delta Chemicals in Memphis, Tenn., which provided access to services and communications relating to crop production, fertilizer and seed, farm credit/loans and farm-related environmental concerns. As an extension agent for the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences from 1989 to 1993, Charbo had regulatory responsibilities for the Agriculture Department in Palm Beach County.

Of course! He worked for a giant business that massively covered up and redistributed blame for killing people! This, as we all have seen, is really a sign of high-levels of skill in government work, and as such is compensable. If he could help cover up killing people with meat, he is more than qualified to cover up a few security failures.

In the end, just another mistake by the beaurocracy, just another example of putting people at risk for no good reason, just another example of placing wholly unqualified people in positions of power that affect hundreds of millions of people.

Par for the course in our lobbyist-ocracy.


I once had a dream:

I walked into the living room, pushing the camel out of my way. Michael Moore and I sat on the sofa, he had the remote.

"Watch this, my new show!"

And behold, I see Shlub on the tube: "HI! I'M GEORGIE KNOXVILLE! WELCOME TO JACKASS!!!"

It tended to explain things.

You know, at least the guys on Jackass were doing it on purpose. ;)