White House Bill to Expand DHS Cyber Control
According to a plan developed by the White House, the Department of Homeland Security will have expansive oversight over all the civilian-based agency computer networks.This plan codifies a large portion of a July 2010 memo drafted by the administration and expands DHS’s responsibilities over civilian networks.The newest proposal is a 100-page document in which the White House is taking those responsibilities to a new level which is for all intents and purposes the equivalent of legislation which will give DHS many, and perhaps all, of the same oversight for the .gov networks as the Defense Department has over the .mil networks.”I have to question why the Executive branch is writing legislation,” said an anonymous source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. “This is not a proposal or white paper like the White House usually sends to Capitol Hill. This is the actual legislation.”The same source added that the plan is now going through interagency review. It was sent to all the civilian agencies late on Friday, with a request to have comments back by this Monday. However, according to the source, it is unlikely that many of the agencies will have time to give the proposal a thorough look-through, especially considering the government shut-down crisis which is now unfolding.This White House bill unites legislative proposals by three Senators, Tom Carper, Democrat from Delaware; Susan Collins, Republican from Maine; and Joseph Lieberman, Independent from Connecticut. Also, the Office of Management and Budget’s July 2010 memo which expanded DHS’s responsibilities is incorporated into the new plan.”The cybersecurity legislation being developed in Congress is a large, complex bill with wide-ranging implications, and several Senate committees are involved in its drafting,” said committee spokeswoman Leslie Phillips. “The two primary committees of jurisdiction – Homeland Security and Commerce – completed the bulk of their work last August and ironed out several remaining differences by the end of March this year. However, other committees and the White House are critical to the completion of this bill.”Senator Lieberman said in a statement that, “We have been waiting with great anticipation for the White House to weigh in on the best way to protect the American people from catastrophic cyber-attacks. If the White House is on the same path we’re on, the Senate should be able to approve comprehensive cybersecurity legislation this year.”The proposed bill by Collins Carper and Lieberman would create a separate National Center of Cybersecurity and Communications within the DHS.
“It would be located within the Department of Homeland Security to elevate and strengthen the Department’s cyber security capabilities and authorities,” Senator Collins said. “This Center also would be led by a Senate-confirmed director. The Cyber Center, anchored at DHS, will close the coordination gaps that currently exist in our disjointed federal cyber security efforts. For day-to-day operations, the Center would use the resources of DHS, and the Center Director would report directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. On interagency matters related to the security of federal networks, the director would regularly advise the President – a relationship similar to the director of the National Counterterrorism Center on counterterrorism matters or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on military issues. These dual relationships would give the director sufficient rank and stature to interact effectively with the heads of other departments and agencies, and with the private sector.”