Upcoming transition creates uncertainty

The next few months will be a critical time for the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) as the government transitions to a new administration and new leaders of congressional committees set up shop.

“The danger is that the CNCI could see some pushback from agencies on the mandates for the  [Federal Desktop Core Configuration], [Trusted Internet Connections] and other things at a time when it is at its most vulnerable, which is during the transitions,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The McCain and Obama presidential campaigns have expressed general support for increased cybersecurity measures, with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) going further and listing it as one of his top five priorities for his administration, should he win in November. He’s also proposed the appointment of a federal chief technology officer to coordinate government efforts in information technology.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way in Washington on ways to provide independent recommendations on cybersecurity to the incoming administration, said Amit Yoran, chief executive officer of netWitness Corp. Those efforts include providing thoughts and analysis on the CNCI.

“I’m reasonably optimistic that both of the campaigns have a concern about cybersecurity, so I don’t believe the 44th president will come in and redo the initiative,” he said.

Mark Gerencser, a senior partner at Booz Allen Hamilton, said he sees signs that CNCI is being taken more seriously than previous attempts to boost cybersecurity. Those signs include a re-energized Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a more involved Congress.

However, the key to maintaining the CNCI’s momentum lies with the White House, so a clear and early statement of support for it is essential.

“This needs to be driven by the executive branch,” Gerencser said.

In fact, there are efforts by some organizations to push that issue even further. Lewis, who is also director of the Commission for Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, said that a key recommendation of the commission’s report, expected to be released in November, will be to move many cybersecurity functions to the White House National Security Council.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group