Tom Davis says he doesn't want cyber-coordinator job

Former Va. congressman added "you never say never"

 Tom Davis, former congressman from Virginia and now director of government affairs for Deloitte, said today that he doesn't want the  White House cybersecurity coordinator job. However, Davis who has been reported to be a front runner for the position, added “you never say never.”

Davis didn’t seek re-election last year for a House seat that he had held since being elected in 1994, but he hasn’t closed the door on coming back to work for government. However, he said today that at this point he isn’t eyeing a return to public service.

“The answer is I’m not seeking it at this point,” Davis said during a panel discussion about what the new “cyber czar” would likely face in his or her first 100 days on the job. The event was hosted by Harris Corp. and held at the National Press Club in Washington.

Davis it would be a challenge for the new coordinator to get all federal agencies on the same page, but it was possible with presidential support. However, Davis said the big issue was how much authority the new coordinator will have.

“For this job to work you’d better get some understandings up front, if you’re the cyber czar and you want to have any clout in this,” Davis said. “At this point it’s unclear to me what the position would even entail, how much authority you would have.”

During a May 29 speech on cybersecurity policy, Obama said he would “personally select” the cybersecurity coordinator who would report to his top national security and economic advisers. The nature of the position has led to speculation about whether the new coordinator would have sufficient clout, as well as what type of person would be qualified or want the position.

During his time in Congress Davis was a leader on issues such as acquisition reform, information technology security and electronic government. He sponsored key IT-related legislation such as the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002.

Davis said during the panel discussion that new legislation was going to be needed to deal with the cybersecurity problem. However, he said it would very difficult to sort out the competing committees that would claim jurisdiction over cybersecurity-related issues.

“I’m afraid given the complexities of where we are today you’re going to have a number of committees that are going to want a piece of this legislation,” he said. He said congressional committees that oversee government reform, commerce, science, armed services, homeland security, intelligence, appropriations, financial services and judiciary issues would all want a role in new cybersecurity legislation.

Davis said the Obama administration had a lot of leeway with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to start enforcing the requirements of FISMA. Davis said he thought the law did improve the situation, but also said it was time “to take the next step.”

“Part of the difficulty with FISMA is you put these new reporting requirements on, but there was no teeth to it and there was no additional funding for it,” Davis said. “Even without a cyber czar I think there is a lot that could be done through OMB that has not been done in the past on this.”

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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