Administration to establish major office for cyber matters

President Barack Obama plans to name a a high official for cyber matters who would report directly to the president, greatly increase funding for interoperable first responder communications and spend $5 billion in global counterterrorism cooperation, as part of his homeland security agenda.

The 44-item homeland security agenda, which contains many items promoted during Obama's campaign, was released on the Whitehouse.gov Web site Jan. 22.

The document outlines goals to fight terrorism, safeguard against nuclear threats and biothreats, secure information networks, improve counterterrorism intelligence and modernize critical infrastructure

Obama intends to establish the position of a national cyber adviser who would report directly to the president. The adviser would be responsible for coordinating federal agency efforts and development of national cyber policy.

The Obama administration plans to coordinate with the private sector to establish “tough new standards” for cybersecurity and to protect personal data on information technology networks, the document states. The protections would include requirements to disclose unauthorized breaches of personal information.

To advance interoperable communications for first responders, Obama intends to name a national chief technology officer “to ensure that the current non-interoperable plans at the federal, state, and local levels are combined, funded, implemented and effective.” It was not immediately clear whether this would be the same position as the anticipated federal chief technology officer.

The administration also said it will develop a national critical infrastructure protection and resiliency plan for critical infrastructure.

The homeland security agenda supports the “virtual and physical infrastructure and manpower” needed to secure the nation’s borders. The Customs and Border Protection’s Secure Border Initiative Network "virtual fence" project on the border of the United States and Mexico border is projected to begin permanent construction in March. The system is comprised of cameras and sensors strung on towers.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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