House bill would create federal CIO

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., introduced a bill last week that would create a federal chief information officer responsible for advising the President on information technology and security.

The Federal Information Policy Act of 2000 establishes a federal CIO in charge of an Office of Information Policy within the executive branch. The legislation centralizes IT management powers currently in the Office of Management and Budget in a single office responsible for implementing information security standards and conducting annual evaluations of agencies' IT practices.

"We learned from the Year 2000 computer problem the wisdom in appointing a single individual to coordinate national and local remediation efforts," Davis said in a reference to John Koskinen, who led the highly successful Y2K transition and has been frequently cited as a model for a federal CIO.

Davis' legislation also formalizes the CIO Council, the interagency group of federal agencies' top information technology executives, which currently exists under a 1996 executive order. The federal CIO would chair the council and submit an annual progress report to the President and Congress, making recommendations for future technology initiatives.

Some lawmakers have criticized the idea of an information-security "czar." At a hearing on computer security in March, Rep. Steve Horn, R-Calif., chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, warned that agencies might not think computer security is their responsibility under a federal CIO.

Davis said his bill would require every agency "to develop and implement security policies that include risk assessment, risk-based policies, security awareness training, and periodic reviews."

Davis said the legislation complements the Cyber Security Information Act of 2000, legislation he introduced in April, which encourages partnerships between the government and the private sector on computer security issues.

The 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act requires agencies to reform information technology management, based largely on the successful practices of the private sector. The law required 24 Cabinet departments and major agencies to appoint CIOs who report to agency heads.

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