Cybersecurity

House Dems look to salvage cyber coordinator post

Jim Langevin (D-RI) 

Rep. Jim Langevin, shown here at a 2017 election security event with Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea at a 2017 election security event, is one of a group of House Democrats who want to keep the White House cyber coordinator job.

Amid reports that the White House has officially eliminated its cyber coordinator position, a group of Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill to restore the job.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), would establish a "National Office for Cyberspace" within the White House and create a director-level position appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The office will serve as "the principal office for coordinating issues relating to cyberspace" and have responsibility over recommending security measures and budgets for federal agencies.

The bill so far has attracted 10 other co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Politico reported on May 15 that new national security advisor John Bolton eliminated the position following the departure of Rob Joyce, who had filled the spot since March 2017. Joyce, who left shortly after his boss Tom Bossert stepped down the day after Bolton started, has since returned to the National Security Agency where previously managed the agency's elite hacking unit.

Langevin told FCW in a May 15 interview he was "very disappointed" in the Trump administration's decision. Up until this point, he had been relatively pleased with the Trump administration's cybersecurity moves, listing off positives like continuity with Obama administration initiatives, delivering a cyber doctrine, hiring Tom Bossert and Rob Joyce as homeland security advisor and cyber coordinator and nominating Chris Krebs to lead the Department of Homeland Security's cyber wing.

However, he characterized the elimination of the cyber coordinator position as "a clear step backwards."

"I think that's a bad move. It's a very shortsighted decision," said Langevin. "In my mind, that decision was made by someone who clearly does not understand the threats we face in cyberspace and doesn't understand that cybersecurity is the national and economic security challenge of the 21st century."

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a senior staff writer at FCW, covering governmentwide IT policy, cybersecurity and a range of other federal technology issues.

Prior to joining FCW, Johnson was a freelance technology journalist. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, GoodCall News, Foreign Policy Journal, Washington Technology, Elevation DC, Connection Newspapers and The Maryland Gazette.

Johnson has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Hofstra University and a Master's degree in public policy from George Mason University. He can be contacted at djohnson@fcw.com, or follow him on Twitter @derekdoestech.

Click here for previous articles by Johnson.


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