United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials spent $2 million on an internship program that had one intern, as it failed to use properly $63 million in federal funding provided for USDA to protect itself from hackers.

The USDA inspector general discovered that the Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) “funded an intern program for a total of $2 million which, while funded as a security enhancement project, only resulted in one intern being hired full-time for ASOC [Agriculture Security Operations Center],” according to a new report.

“While the intern program may be a beneficial step in the long-run, it did little to further the more pressing objective of improving USDA’s IT security,” the inspector general said. The $2 million included $686,000 for “development and implementation of a networking website” in FY 2010 and 2011 and another $192, 500 in housing costs for the intern.

The intern program was an example of the USDA’s broader failure to manage 16 projects designed to protect the department from regular IT security threats. Before 2009, when it requested a $44 million increase to its $18 million security budget, the USDA depended on external organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security to alert it to such threats.

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