Cybersecurity measures not likely in intelligence reform

After a week of at times acrimonious turf fighting about cybersecurity, it appears there will be only a small mention of the issue in a larger bill to reform the government's intelligence structure, congressional and private-sector sources said Tuesday.

The bill being considered by various committees contains a provision that requires agencies to include cybersecurity in their planning, but two larger cyber-security measures will not be included.

Over the past week or so, GOP leaders gave consideration to inclusion of a House Homeland Security Committee bill to elevate the status of cybersecurity within the Homeland Security Department two levels, from a director to an assistant secretary, and to strengthen the agency's responsibilities. At the same time, the House Government Reform Committee introduced legislation that would clarify and enhance the cyber-security oversight of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The Homeland Security bill does not have the clear support of the department and was seen by some critics as a move by the committee to strengthen its case for being made permanent next year. The Government Reform bill ruffled feathers as some interpreted it as moving too much oversight to OMB, though committee staff argue the agency already has the policy oversight and Homeland Security would be left with operational oversight.

Both bills have been put off to next year to get agreement, aides said. Government Reform does not plan to attach its cybersecurity bill when it votes on the intelligence reform bill on Wednesday.

The House Science Committee, which has jurisdiction loosely over cybersecurity research and development and standards, does not support either bill in their current forms but will continue negotiating on the language of the Homeland Security Committee bill, according to committee Chief of Staff David Goldston.

Industry generally supports elevating cybersecurity within Homeland Security. Dexter Ingram, director of information security policy at the Business Software Alliance (BSA), said the group "looks forward to working with the Government Reform Committee on strengthening OMB's information-sharing coordination capacity within the federal government, as well as working with the House Select Homeland Security Committee on strengthening cyber security within the Department of Homeland Security."

One of the main reasons the new department was created was because security operations cannot be done out of the White House, said Frank Cilluffo, former special assistant to the president for homeland security.

In addition, policymakers didn't want to separate physical and cyber security and instead sought to "marry up" these two issues, he added. Elevation of cybersecurity within Homeland Security would separate them and should not be pursued, he said. Cilluffo noted that there is a senior director for cyber security on the White House Homeland Security Council who "rides shepherd" on cybersecurity policy within the White House.

Cilluffo said OMB always "gets a bite at the apple" through managing agency budgets. He said Homeland Security should have more flexibility in its budget to address the rapid pace of technological advances.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
X CLOSE Don't show again

Like us on Facebook