Homeland Security

Einstein, cyber workforce priorities for DHS chief

Jeh Johnson

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said one of his goals is to have Einstein 3A in place at civilian agencies by the end of the year.

In what will likely be his last budget presentation before the Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said implementing the Einstein cybersecurity system across government, attracting capable cyber defenders and ensuring the success of the Department of Homeland Security's unified acquisition and management programs are among his top targets for the year and into the future.

"One of my top goals is to have federal civilian agencies have [Einstein 3A] in place before the end of the year," Johnson testified at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on DHS' proposed $40.6 billion budget for fiscal 2017.

Echoing remarks he made in February during his "state of the agency" speech, Johnson told lawmakers on March 8 that further investment in Einstein and the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program was critical to federal agencies.

Although some members of the committee pressured Johnson on border security issues such as the surging levels of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S./Mexico border, they seemed satisfied with the department's plans for pushing ahead with Einstein and CDM.

They were also substantially more agreeable on DHS' plan to transform the National Protection and Programs Directorate into an information hub. The plan had been the subject of heated exchanges last fall, with lawmakers accusing DHS of stonewalling on providing details. Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he supported the plan to turn the directorate into a more streamlined cybersecurity agency.

Jeh Johnson said the agency's Unity of Effort program -- which seeks to break down the many operational, management and acquisition silos at DHS -- would continue beyond his tenure.

Committee members commiserated with him on the difficulties of attracting and keeping cybersecurity professionals given the strong pull of companies with deep pockets. Lawmakers said appealing to candidates' sense of duty could reap dividends, citing Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Phyllis Schneck, who came from industry, as an example.

"There are plenty of patriots in the U.S. who will take a pay cut" to help defend the country, Chairman Johnson said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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