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DHS appoints new director of National Cybersecurity Center

Updated Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 4:25 p.m. EST

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has appointed Philip Reitinger as the new director of the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC), a post left in March by Rod Beckstrom, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on Monday.

"I'm pleased to see that Secretary Napolitano has appointed a replacement," Beckstrom, former NCSC director told in an email Wednesday. "The NCSC is an important body and it's good for the country to have someone leading it."

Philip Reitinger is currently the undersecretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the DHS where he leads the Department's efforts to reduce risks across physical and cyber infrastructures, the DHS said in a news release. Reitinger, a former Microsoft cybersecurity executive, will keep his position at the NPPD while taking on his new position. The DHS said that Reitinger's appointment is, “a major step toward a cohesive DHS strategy on cyber efforts.”

In his new role, Reitinger will be responsible for collecting, analyzing, integrating and sharing information among interagency partners, the DHS said. In addition, he will also be tasked with coordinating situational awareness and reporting for federal cybersecurity organizations and personnel.

“Centralizing our cybersecurity efforts under Phil's leadership will help create a unified DHS as we continue to adapt to an ever-changing array of threats,” Napolitano said in a statement. 

In March, former NCSC director, Rod Beckstrom resigned, citing tension between agencies and a lack of funding from the DHS.

“During the past year, the NCSC received only five weeks of funding, due to various roadblocks engineered within the department and by the Office of Management and Budget,” Beckstrom wrote in his letter of resignation to secretary of the DHS Janet Napolitano in March.

Beckstrom added that he thinks the DHS's cybersecurity efforts are "controlled" by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The DHS filled two other cybersecurity posts on Monday. Greg Schaffer, the former senior vice president and chief risk officer for Alltel Communications, was appointed as the assistant secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C). In addition, Bruce McConnell, who formerly served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, was appointed as counselor to the NPPD deputy under secretary. Shaffer and McConnell will work with Reitinger to, “prevent cyber attacks and protect the nation's critical information systems and networks,” Napolitano said.

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