Lieberman outlines plan for cybersecurity legislation

Senator describes his priorities for a measure he hopes to introduce later this year

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman of Connecticut today outlined his priorities for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation that he plans to introduce in the near future.

Lieberman, a political independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats,  laid out his plan during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. In a statement, Lieberman's office said he  plans to introduce the bill later this year along, with the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Lieberman said he hoped the eventual legislation would have provisions to:

  • Establish a cybersecurity coordinator position in the Executive Office of the President who would be accountable to Congress
  • Give the Homeland Security Department enough authority and personnel to monitor and defend federal civilian networks
  • Have DHS do more to help industry protect itself from cyberattacks
  • Establish new government acquisition policies and practices to improve security of government information technology systems and
  • Improve the government’s ability to hire, retain and train cybersecurity professionals.

Lieberman’s desire to make the White House cyber coordinator appointment require Senate confirmation would add congressional oversight to the post.. Under the Obama administration’s plan, the yet-to-be-appointed White House cyber coordinator wouldn’t require Senate approval.

Meanwhile, Collins has opposed the administration’s plans to appoint a White House cyber coordinator in part because she said it would lack congressional oversight. In general, Collins has criticized the appointment of so-called White House policy "czars" that don’t require Senate confirmation. Collins has also said the administration should focus its cybersecurity efforts on bolstering DHS’ cybersecurity capabilities.

Lieberman also said reforming the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) was important. “In order to make this work…[FISMA] must be reformed to hold each agency accountable for good internal security practices,” Lieberman said.

A Lieberman-Collins measure would join several other cybersecurity-related bills that lawmakers have introduced this year. For example, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), introduced comprehensive cybersecurity legislation in April.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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