Senate confirms new DHS, GSA chiefs

Kirstjen Nielsen and Emily Murphy 

Kirstjen Nielse was confirmed to take over as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, while and Emily Murphy was confirmed as administrator of the General Services Administration.

The Senate confirmed leaders for two key agencies on Dec. 5, approving the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to take over as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Emily Murphy to be administrator of the General Services Administration.

The Senate voted 62 to 37 to confirm Nielsen, with 10 Democrats voting yes. Murphy's confirmation came by unanimous consent.

Nielsen served at DHS as chief of staff under former head John Kelly in the early days of the Trump administration. She followed Kelly to the White House when the former Marine general replaced the beleaguered Reince Priebus as Trump's chief of staff.

Nielsen will be the first cyber professional to head the agency charged with protecting federal civilian networks, leading efforts to coordinate cybersecurity of privately owned critical infrastructure. She served in the Transportation Security Administration during the George W. Bush administration and has also worked as a private-sector cybersecurity consultant.

Nielsen's "work in and around the department since its creation, as well as her knowledge of cybersecurity, risk management and critical infrastructure, should serve her well in confronting the daunting threats to our homeland," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a onetime prospect for the DHS top job, said, "I am confident that Kirstjen's mission-focused style of leadership will help her succeed in leading the men and women of DHS and ensuring we reform and improve the Department."

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who voted against the nomination, cautioned that Nielsen "failed to demonstrate that she would provide the steady, experienced leadership -- free from political interference from the White House -- that the department needs."

The nomination of Murphy, who has been serving as a senior advisor to acting GSA Administrator Timothy Horne, sparked no such opposition. She was considered a leading candidate to head the agency since she joined the Trump transition effort as the White House liaison for GSA.

Murphy previously worked at GSA chief acquisition officer from 2005 to 2007, and has been a counsel for the House Armed Services Committee and the Small Business Committee. She was nominated for the GSA administrator job in September.

Correction: This article was updated Dec. 6 to correct the date Nielsen and Murphy were confirmed in the Senate.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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