DHS cyber executive Weatherford leaving

Thursday - 3/14/2013, 3:37pm EDT

The merry-go-around of the Homeland Security Department's cyber executives turns once more. Mark Weatherford, the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity, is leaving.

An internal email obtained by Federal News Radio said Weatherford's last day will be April 12 after he accepted a job in the private sector with the Chertoff Group.

Mark Weatherford

"My time in the federal government has been incredibly rewarding and we made progress many called impossible two years ago, but the pull to return to the private sector has been strong," Weatherford wrote in an email to colleagues that was obtained by Federal News Radio. "Working at DHS has not been without its challenges but the people here have made it all worthwhile. Government employees rarely get the credit they deserve but I can assure you that the people I've worked with at DHS are some of the most dedicated and selfless individuals in the world and deserve a great deal of credit for keeping our nation safe day in and day out."

Rand Beers, DHS's undersecretary for NPPD, said in an email to staff that Weatherford's leadership has been crucial during the realignment of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications and in making the office better.

"Mark has been a strong advocate in support of new cybersecurity capabilities, increased cyber workforce development, and broader collaboration with critical infrastructure sectors-an effort that contributed immensely to the President Obama's Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity" and Presidential Policy Directive Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience," Beers wrote.

Bruce McConnell, a senior counselor and director of strategy and policy for NPPD, will step into the acting role, Beers said.

Weatherford came to DHS in October 2011 after being the vice president and chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. There, he was responsible for the organization's critical infrastructure and cybersecurity program.

He becomes the second senior executive to leave NPPD in the last four months. Mike Locatis, the former assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, resigned in January after only nine months on the job.

Weatherford's decision comes as DHS is ramping up its efforts to implement President Obama's cybersecurity executive order. DHS, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will play key roles in working with industry to create voluntary standards and provide information sharing.

Beers said Weatherford's efforts to improve interagency collaboration have put DHS in good shape to move forward.

"Because of his vision, we now have stronger coordination and clearer alignment with agencies like the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Commerce, and National Institute of Standards and Technology," Beers said. "Mark has also been a strong advocate for our state and local partners, helping to further address their concerns on both the cyber and communications fronts."

In an October interview with Federal News Radio, Weatherford said one of his top priorities was to make DHS's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center the nexus of information sharing between government and industry.

Beers credited Weatherford's vision and leadership for the progress around cybersecurity over the last year.

"His time with us has been truly invaluable to the NPPD mission and in service to the nation," he said.

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