Congress

House bill would carve out new powers for HHS CISO

Wikimedia image: Department of Health and Human Services.

In a move to raise the profile of cybersecurity at the Department of Health and Human Services, a pair of lawmakers has introduced a bill that would establish a separate office for the agency's chief information security officer. The CISO currently works in the department's CIO office.

The bill from Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.) would require a new CISO office to be in place by Oct. 1. It would also task the HHS secretary with reporting back to Congress on the CISO's plan to oversee IT security at the department.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration within HHS suffered a breach that compromised the credentials of over 14,000 users of FDA information systems.

A report issued two years later by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Matsui and Long are members, recommended separating the agency's CISO from its CIO, in part because "the CIO-CISO hierarchy [had] prevented the CISO from requiring full system audits."

"As the network of cyber criminals becomes increasingly sophisticated, our operational structures and strategies must evolve accordingly," Matsui said in a statement announcing the bill.

HHS is in search of a CISO after Sara Hall left the agency earlier this year. A job ad posted last week says the candidate should have deep experience in managing health IT systems that provide security commensurate with the magnitude of harm that would result from the systems' compromise.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is a former FCW staff writer.

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