Congress

NPPD reorg bill moves on to full House

Legislation that would bring the Department of Homeland Security's cyber and critical infrastructure protection operations closer together easily won approval by a key congressional committee on July 26.

Draft bill H.R. 3359, introduced July 24 by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), seeks to replace the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at DHS with a new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The bill was reported out of the committee on a voice vote with no amendments and strong bipartisan support.

"We should have done this some time ago," Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said during a markup session of DHS bills that included the legislation.

"This realignment of NPPD's structure will allow it to become more streamlined and effective in carrying out existing authorities while achieving the department's goal of creating a stand-alone operational organization focusing on and elevating the vital cybersecurity and infrastructure security missions," McCaul said during the markup session.

He has been pushing the legislation for months after a similar measure failed to progress in the last Congress. He said in March that he intended to introduce an NPPD reorganization bill with markup by the end of spring.

Top managers at NPPD have long been advocating a closer connection between cybersecurity and critical infrastructure efforts at DHS. Former NPPD Undersecretary Suzanne Spaulding and former DHS Assistant Secretary of Cybersecurity and Communications Andy Ozment began pushing for the move over a year ago.

The bill would establish a new subagency, led by a director instead of an undersecretary, who would report to DHS Secretary John Kelly.

McCaul said the bill would also establish three divisions within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency -- covering cybersecurity, infrastructure and emergency communications.

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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