Letter: Openness needed to evaluate cyber initiative

Regarding "Editorial: Security, not secrecy": I agree with your editorial regarding the need for more openness for the administration's cyber initiative.

Permit me to add a few more reasons for openness. To be clear, I am not suggesting the government publicize things like security plans or possible operations.

No, I am suggesting the government continually engage the public in security policy discussions so they can help counterbalance government's instincts to paint risk with too broad a brush.

Furthermore, the government is obliged to let the public know how their information is being protected, how their tax dollar is being spent, who is spending it, and let them assess whether they believe it is being spent wisely.

I also want to remind folks of the great breadth of the federal government and that for every large department like Homeland Security or Defense or Justice there are scores of smaller ones like the Marine Mammal Commission, Battle Monuments Commission or Federal Trade Commission.

And, while some of what government does must be secret, the overwhelming majority of programs even in the large departments exist to interact with the public, industry, academia, international scientists, and so on.

Simply put, and I mean no disrespect, in my lengthy government experience, the risks to and thus the actual security needs of most of government are incomprehensible to my former colleagues -- the national and homeland security experts whom I presume authored the secret initiative.

I also want to point out that because most of government is open, most government employees and officials don't have national security clearances and thus one must wonder how they will implement the secret cyber initiative.

Now, I grant you, I could have this all wrong. The initiative could be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It could be appropriately risk-based, business enabling, cost-effective, and efficient, but, how would I know? How would anyone know?


Glenn Schlarman
Retired (formerly OMB)

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