CIAO funding carries concerns

CIAO

Although the House intends to support the Bush administration's plans to maintain the central office for critical infrastructure protection, members of Congress are asking for a study to determine whether other government offices are duplicating its efforts.

In a report released July 13, the House Appropriations Committee gave the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office at the Commerce Department $4.9 million, just less than the president's request for $5 million in fiscal 2002.

The funding is a small increase above this year, and it relies on the Senate's agreement. Additionally, the committee has requested a report from Commerce on the continued need for the office, due Sept. 1.

"The committee remains concerned that this office may be duplicative of other offices throughout the federal government," the committee report states.

President Clinton created the CIAO in May 1998 as part of Presidential Decision Directive 63, which requires federal agencies to protect the information systems that support the nation's critical infrastructure, including electricity, telecommunications and government services.

The CIAO works under the national coordinator at the National Security Council to coordinate agency-specific plans, and the office led the development of the National Plan for Information Systems Protection released in January 2000.

PDD 63 also created other offices, including the National Infrastructure Protection Center at the FBI.

The General Accounting Office has criticized the coordination between the NSC, the CIAO, NIPC and other organizations in the past, and the Bush administration is drafting an executive order to restructure the leadership of critical infrastructure efforts.

In its latest form, the executive order would create a board, headed by the NSC and made up of representatives from the major federal agencies involved in critical infrastructure protection, according to Paul Kurtz, director of transnational threats at the NSC and the agency's leader for cybersecurity efforts.

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