Lawmakers press White House on naming permanent cyber czar

Monday - 9/14/2009, 4:44pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Two leading House lawmakers want to know what is taking so long for the White House to announce a permanent cybersecurity coordinator.

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas), co-chairman of the House Cyber Caucus and co-chairman of the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 41st President, sent a letter to President Barack Obama saying they are concerned about the delay in naming a permanent cyber coordinator and the impact it's having on agencies.

"[W] e strongly believe that the continued absence of a permanent cybersecurity coordinator impedes the ability of federal agencies to move forward in updating and strengthening their aging cyber policies, while also complicating our efforts to collaborate with private institutions that play such a critical role in keeping our nation safe," the lawmakers wrote in a Sept. 10 letter to the White House.

Langevin told FederalNewsRadio in late August that he has talked to White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel about the delay in naming a coordinator and its impact on the government.

"The President is personally committed to finding the right person for this job, and a rigorous selection process is well underway," says White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro.

The White House issued its 60-day cyber security review May 29. It called for a senior position in the White House answering to both the National Security Council and the National Economics Council.

Melissa Hathaway served as acting senior director for cybersecurity at the White House up until Aug. 7 when she resigned. Christopher Painter, who is on detail from the Justice Department, took over for Hathaway shortly after she left.

A coordinator could be named in the near future. Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra, speaking today at a conference in California sponsored by Information Week, says the President will name a cyber coordinator shortly.

And federal chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra said last week that he has interviewed several candidates and a coordinator will be named in the near future.

Still, the lawmakers want the White House to end the delay as soon as possible.

"We now respectively urge you to solidify these efforts by swiftly appointing a cybersecurity coordinator," the letter states.

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On the Web:

FederalNewsRadio -- Reps. Langevin and McCaul letter to White House

FederalNewsRadio -- Langevin 'concerned and disappointed': still no cybersecurity czar

FederalNewsRadio -- Hathaway resigns as White House cyber lead

FederalNewsRadio -- Obama cyber policy review

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