Cybersecurity

Draft White House cyber order signals pending re-org

Shutterstock image: open lock. 

A draft of a new executive order on cybersecurity hints at new organizational changes and legal authorities aimed at strengthening civilian agency networks' cybersecurity capabilities.

The draft order, published by the Washington Post on Jan. 26, tells federal agencies to begin a review of the most pressing cybersecurity issues. It also calls on the Department of Homeland Security to report on "enhanced protections" for the most critical federal government, public and private infrastructure within 60 days.

One finding in the draft order suggests possible reorganization of some departments charged with protecting civilian and government critical infrastructure.

"The executive departments and agencies tasked with protecting civilian government and infrastructure are not currently organized to act collectively/collaboratively, tasked or resourced, or provided with legal authority adequate to succeed in their missions," it said.

That might be good news for DHS' stalled plan to reorganize and rename the National Protection and Programs Directorate the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency and bind cyber and physical security capabilities more closely to better reflect the links between security threats. The plan stalled on Capitol Hill in the fall. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is expected to reintroduce the legislation to reprogram NPPD.

The order might mean less of a role for the Office of Management and Budget, which currently plays a leading role in civilian cybersecurity. No one from OMB, including the federal CIO, is tasked with a senior role. Under the Obama administration, the governmentwide cybersecurity goal was led by cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel and senior officials from the Defense Department and DHS, along with Federal CIO Tony Scott.

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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