US Homeland Security chief suspended

Laura Callahan, the deputy chief information officer of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was placed on paid...

Laura Callahan, the deputy chief information officer of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was placed on paid administrative leave last week after questions surfaced about her academic qualifications.

The move came after members of congress contacted department officials demanding answers to questions about her academic background, as well as about the department's policy on background checks.

On her CV Callahan said she received her academic degrees, including a doctorate in computer information systems, from Hamilton University in Wyoming.

However, congressmen found that Hamilton is not licensed by that state, nor is the school accredited by the US Department of Education.

"What is troubling to me is that a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security in the office of the chief information officer would have a questionable degree in computer information systems," said congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

"I would hope that checking credentials on a CV is a standard procedure in any background check."

DHS spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich said the department is investigating the allegations and declined to comment on the department's procedures concerning background checks.

In 2001, Callahan was deputy chief information officer at the US Department of Labor and, in 2002, she also became that department's IT centre director. In April 2003 she was appointed to the position of deputy chief information officer of the DHS.

Linda Rosencrance writes for IDG News Service

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