Cybersecurity

Can Obama’s cyber commission outlast his administration?

Shutterstock image: the White House.

President Obama's recently announced Commission for Enhancing National Cybersecurity has only named its chair and vice chair so far, but has ambitions to produce actionable framework that will serve to the next president – whomever that happens to be.

"The idea is to hand over, right at the transition of the administration, a set of concrete, deliverable, actionable recommendations that Congress and lawmakers can implement," said Clete Johnson, senior adviser for cybersecurity and technology at the Commerce Department, said at a March 9 New America Foundation event. "Substantive diversity is built into the executive order about the qualities the president will be looking for in the new commissioners."

Because the commission plans to write its recommendations based on collaboration between government and the private sector from now until the Dec. 1 deadline, "we think there will be some buy-in and consensus behind the national recommendations," Johnson added. He pointed out that the executive order instituting the commission allows congressional leadership to suggest candidates. They get four picks, according to Johnson, but that is not specified in the order.

"What we have here is really a great opportunity to create a great synergy and stronger relationship between government and industry," said Kevin Stine, who leads the Applied Cybersecurity Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "That's the value of reaching out to organizations and industries… it leads to greater reception of the end result."

Beyond hopes of handing over a series of collaborative ideas to the next administration, the commission hopes to inspire the potential next generation of the IT workforce.

"To address the cybersecurity workforce pipeline, we have to encourage a much more diverse workforce," Stine said. "Not just in terms of minority or under-represented population, but others that come from different life experiences."  He added that government must be "looking at different strategies for getting young people excited about cybersecurity as a profession and get them into the workforce with valuable skills earlier in the process."

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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