Security board swept out

Feb. 28 executive order

A new executive order that addresses some reorganization details for the Homeland Security Department completely eliminates the group responsible for overseeing the government's critical infrastructure protection efforts.

The Feb. 28 executive order is mostly housekeeping, inserting the Homeland Security secretary into some old orders and eliminating or changing officials in others as functions transfer to the new department.

But the biggest change is the complete rewrite of the Oct. 16, 2001, executive order addressing critical infrastructure protection under the Bush administration.

The rewrite eliminates the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, a group that brought together top officials from every agency throughout government to address security issues.

The board also led the development of the administration's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, the final version of which the White House released last month.

The Homeland Security Department has four main directorates, and the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate merges the main federal organizations involved in critical infrastructure protection: the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, the National Infrastructure Protection Center, the Federal Computer Incident Response Capability, and others.

A leader has not even been nominated for that division, however, and the groups involved are still working on a transition plan while trying to meet their daily responsibilities.

The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) issued a call for Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to name a cybersecurity adviser as soon as possible to replace the position that the board held and to ensure that agencies across government are involved in critical infrastructure protection.

"The [board], which consists of the top leadership from throughout the federal government, reflects a fundamental fact: Cybersecurity requires the participation of all government entities, and the coordination facilitated by the [board] is essential," said Harris Miller, president of ITAA.

The move also comes a month after Richard Clarke, chairman of the board, announced he was leaving government. He led the critical infrastructure protection efforts of the Clinton and Bush administrations since 1998.

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