CIAO efforts under scrutiny

CIAO

Although the House intends to support the Bush administration's plans to maintain the central office for critical infrastructure protection, some lawmakers are seeking a study to determine whether other government offices duplicate 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 from this year, and it relies on the Senate's agreement. Additionally, the committee has requested a study 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 report states.

President Clinton created the CIAO in May 1998. It 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.

The General Accounting Office has criticized the coordination among the NSC, the CIAO, the National Infrastructure Protection Center at the FBI and other organizations in the past. The Bush administration is also 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 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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