White House to form cybersecurity center

The White House plans to set up a central office to coordinate the government's response to cybersecurity attacks, said Richard Clarke, President Bush's cyberspace security adviser, speaking to Congress on Feb. 13.

The Cybersecurity Information Coordination Center will be modeled on a similar operation that coordinated the government's response to the Year 2000 computer crisis two years ago.

Clarke, who serves under both Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, oversees all federal cybersecurity policy, including the interagency Critical Infrastructure Protection Board setup by Bush in an October 2001 executive order.

The new center, expected to open next month, will bring together elements of three organizations involved in federal security: Clarke's office, the majority of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office and the analysis and warning section of the National Infrastructure Protection Center.

The experience of the Year 2000 center was "a shining moment" where organizations across government and industry came together to tackle a common problem, Clarke told the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on administrative oversight and the courts. Now, "we are seeking to recreate it on a smaller scale," Clarke said.

The office could be expanded to bring in other agency officials if necessary to deal with specific problems, he said. No matter how much collaboration technology is available, "we really need a flexible, physical location where when there is a problem, we have a place to put people from across government," he said.

Clarke's office does not have much funding of its own, so the center will rely mostly on funding received by the CIAO and the NIPC, said Tiffany Olson, Clarke's deputy chief of staff.

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