Napolitano names senior cybersecurity officials
Reitinger to lead National Cybersecurity Center
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that Philip Reitinger, deputy undersecretary of the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), will also lead DHS’ National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) – an organization designed to improve cybersecurity coordination across the government's civilian, military and intelligence cyber domains.
A DHS statement released June 1 announcing Reitinger’s new role said it was “a major step toward a cohesive DHS strategy on cyber efforts.”
Napolitano also announced that Bruce McConnell will be counselor to Reitinger and serve as a senior adviser on strategic and policy matters. McConnell previously served on the Obama transition team and was the Office of Management and Budget’s chief of information policy and technology during the Clinton administration.
In addition, Napolitano said Greg Schaffer will be the department’s assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications. Schaffer will work with industry and international partners to prepare for, prevent and respond to incidents that could damage the country’s strategic cyber and communications infrastructure, DHS said. Until recently, Schaffer held a senior position at Alltel Communications,
Meanwhile, NCSC has become a flashpoint in the debate
over how involved the National Security Agency should be in
securing civilian networks, a responsibility now held by DHS. Rod Beckström, the
center’s first director, resigned in March with a critical letter in which he said he never got the support he needed for the center.
Beckström also said NSA effectively controls DHS' cyber initiatives and
dominates most national efforts, something he called “a bad strategy on
Also, a report
released May 29 on the findings of the Obama administration’s 60-day
review of cybersecurity policy didn’t specifically deal with questions
about the role that NSA would play in cybersecurity programs.
However, President Barack Obama said he would follow the
report’s recommendation to create a cybersecurity coordinator position at the
The report recommended that the new official continue to evaluate
the Bush administration’s Comprehensive National
Cybersecurity Initiative, under which NCSC was created. Specifically,
the report said the new cyber coordinator should “review the
operational concept and the implementation of the [NCSC] to determine whether its proposed
responsibilities, resource strategy and governance are adequate to
enable it to provide the shared situational awareness necessary to
support cyber incident response efforts.”
Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.