Rep. Langevin touts importance of cyber czar position

Tuesday - 6/2/2009, 5:21pm EDT

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)

Click to hear the interview

Download mp3

By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio

The President has said he is going to create a cyber czar based on the findings of a recent report, and one of the report's authors is pleased with this development.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) is a co-chair of the House Cyber-Security Caucus and a Co-Chair of CSIS's Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency and says, while overall he was pleased with last week's announcement, he does want to know more.

"There are still some things that are unclear, in terms of particulars -- the level of authority that the cyber coordinator is going to have -- but overall it is a positive step forward for better securing our cyberspace infrastructure."

As one of the co-chairs of the commission, Langevin tells Federal News Radio's Daily Debrief he also appreciates that the president is taking the report seriously and listening to the recommendations.

"What is clear is that -- and the President ostensibly acknowledged this -- no one department or agency in the federal government can do this on its own. It really does need a broader coordinating authority out of the White House and within the White House and that's what he's basically done -- moving us in that direction."

While Langevin says he is still waiting to get details about the actual responsibilities of the new cyber czar, he also notes that it will be important for the President to pick someone who has experience with cybersecurity.

"It certainly can't be any kind of a political appointee and I don't expect that. This will be someone I hope that has respected credentials in the area of cybersecurity and that will be able to work closely on the budgetary and policy authorities that the office needs."

Overall, the Congressman says there needs to be better cybersecurity coordination between the federal government and the private sector. This aspect was detailed in the report released by the commission.

"Much of our infrastructure in critical assets is in private hands. The power grid, the banking system, telecommunications . . . so there's got to be close coordination between the federal government and the private sector."

Another concern has to do with to whom the new cyber czar would report. Langevin says, while he is watching this issue closely, it's too early to tell exactly whether or not the officials who wrote the report should be worried.

"Again, it depends on what line of authority the person has and will they have more direct access to the President? The President did say this person would have access so, again, we will have to take a wait-and-see attitude on that."

The Congressman says he is pleased about the amount of attention this issue has garnered.

"Although a cyber-9/11 hasn't happened yet . . . I believe it's very possible that we will see something like that. The idea is that we need to get out ahead of this to better protect the country in cyberspace. We don't want to look at what we could have done after it happens. Of course, this is a difficult issue because achieving cybersecurity is a moving target. It's very difficult and challenging to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Right now, I don't think we are . . . and we have to get better at cybersecurity and . . . this report that's come out is giving us a blueprint of how to get there."

---
On the Web:

CSIS - Commission on Cybersecurity

Rep. Jim Langevin -- Langevin Statement on White House Cyberspace

DorobekInsider -- The DorobekInsider reader: Obama cyber policy review

(Copyright 2009 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)