Fate of House cyberczar proposal still in balance as Congress closes


A House proposal to create an assistant secretary of cybersecurity position at the Department of Homeland Security garnered support in the Senate, but its fate was unclear as the 108th Congress drew to a close.

In October, the House passed a bill to reform the country's intelligence community, which included a provision to create the new post. In an October 21 letter to the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, Senators Robert Bennett (R-Utah) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) supported the proposal.

"The importance of cybersecurity to our homeland security continues to grow. However, in the past two years, the individual responsible for cybersecurity within the federal government has evolved from that of a special advisor to the President, to merely an office director within DHS," they wrote.The creation of an assistant secretary will provide more focus for the cybersecurity mission, they said, adding that the secretary will have the authority and the resources needed to implement the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and provide a single point of contact for the states and private sector.

Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, said creating the new position clearly has support in Washington D.C., but did not want to hazard a guess on whether it would ultimately be passed.

"Cybersecurity, as important as I think it is, isn't one of the major issues grabbing people's attention in regards to reorganizing the intelligence community."

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