DHS to take FISMA lead

Obama administration officials detail cybersecurity roles of different federal organizations

The Homeland Security Department will take primary responsibility in the executive branch for the operational aspects for the security of civilian agency federal systems covered by the Federal Information Security Management Act, according to a memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt.

Orszag and Schmidt sent the memo, dated July 6, to agencies to clarify the roles of the those organizations are to play in putting FISMA in place.

In the memo, they said that to avoid confusion, OMB will be responsible for reporting to Congress on FISMA annually, for developing and approving cybersecurity portions of the budget, and for coordinating with the cybersecurity coordinator on all related policy issues. Meanwhile, the cybersecurity coordinator will have visibility into DHS programs to ensurece FISMA compliance and will be the primary White House official to coordinate interagency cooperation with DHS cybersecurity programs, the memo said.


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Orszag and Schmidt also outlined additional significant roles for DHS. The department is responsible for:

  • Overseeing governmentwide and agency reporting on cybersecurity policies and guidance.
  • Assisting governmentwide and agency efforts to provide adequate, risk-based and cost-effective cybersecurity.
  • Overseeing agencies’ compliance with FISMA and to help OMB develop of the FISMA annual report.
  • Annually reviewing the agencies’ cybersecurity programs.
  • Overseeing agencies’ cybersecurity operations and incident response, as well as helping with appropriate assistance.
"All departments and agencies shall coordinate and cooperate with DHS as it carries out its cybersecurity responsibility and activities as noted here," the officials wrote.


About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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