Filling the cybersecurity void

Feb. 28 executive order

Bush administration officials are considering the creation of a special coordinating committee to replace the now-defunct Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, which was eliminated in a recent executive order.

Meanwhile, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security created a subcommittee to examine cybersecurity issues.

On Feb. 28, the White House issued a new executive order that, among other things, completely eliminated the board — a group that brought together top officials from every agency throughout government to address cybersecurity 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.

Officials in industry, particularly the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), expressed concern that the elimination of the board would diminish agencies' participation in critical infrastructure protection efforts.

Although the board is gone, officials are discussing creating a critical infrastructure committee on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council, said David Wray, a Homeland Security Department spokesman. The administration also is likely to continue to have a cybersecurity adviser to the president, although details on both issues are still under development, Wray said.

"When people go through change or see change, there is a lot of concern that things will drop between the cracks, and there is a feverish work going on to make sure that doesn't happen," said Sallie McDonald, a senior official with the department's new Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

The House Select Committee on Homeland Security's new cybersecurity subcommittee is one of five panels created March 4 in an organizational meeting. The cybersecurity subcommittee also will look at science and all forms of research and development, and many in industry praised the move, including ITAA and the Business Software Alliance.

Other subcommittees will focus on border security, counterterrorism, emergency preparedness and internal committee rules.

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