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 an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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