processes.  Failing to follow such processes ultimately leads to systems 
availability problems.  The Gartner Group, a leading provider of IT industry 
research and analysis, reported that 80 percent of unplanned systems 
downtime is caused by people and process issues, including poor change 
management practices.  Enterprises which have established strong change 
management practices typically have the highest levels of systems 
availability.
19
Additionally, according to regulations, agencies are responsible for ensuring 
effective and efficient operation of IT equipment before it is implemented.  
This entails proving that new systems function in a  production like  test 
environment to ensure that the IT applications work properly and contain 
needed safeguards.  However, in addition to its rushed systems acquisition 
approach, the EP&R CIO does not have a test environment to match the real 
systems environment, and does not always adequately test systems prior to 
release.  
For example, the online NEMIS registration capability did not have a name 
check function to ensure the validity and existence of the individuals filing 
claims.  Also, the online system did not have controls to prevent one 
individual from generating multiple claims at the same time, even though the 
technology to prevent this from occurring already exists.  One FEMA official 
was aware of six false claims made online.  Proper testing of the online 
system likely would have disclosed this lack of system controls, leaving 
FEMA less susceptible to such fraud.  FEMA officials said that they are in the 
process of acquiring the identity proofing, authentication, and prevention 
capabilities needed to mitigate these risks. 
Further, a FEMA testing team lacked adequate requirements to support testing 
of a new fire grants system.  When it updated the production environment 
with the new system code, the system automatically sent multiple print jobs 
across the network, clogging up the system, and taking bandwidth away from 
emergency personnel who needed it. 
                                                 
19
NSM: Often the Weakest Link in Business Availability
, Gartner, Inc., July 3, 2001. 
Emergency Preparedness and Response Could Better Integrate Information Technology  
with Incident Response and Recovery 
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