Bill would create White House cyber office

Thursday - 5/6/2010, 6:39pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Two more members of Congress are taking their turn at improving federal cybersecurity.

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas) today introduced the Executive Cyberspace Authorities Act of 2010. Langevin and McCaul are the co-chairmen of the House Cyber Caucus and the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th President.

The bill would create a new National Cyberspace Office, led by a cyberspace director. This person would be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The direction would coordinate the security of federal information infrastructure policies, review and approve civilian agency IT security budget and site on the National Security Council.

"While the President's establishment of a Cybersecurity Coordinator was an encouraging step, the position was not given the proper authorities to adequately secure our networks and coordinate IT policy across government. Our legislation aims to enhance this position, giving it more authority," says Langevin in a release.

McCaul adds that the National Cyberspace Office will provide the necessary coordination to protect federal networks and infrastructure from attack.

The legislation also would let the cyberspace director recommend that the President withhold awards and bonuses for specific agencies that fail to make adequate efforts to secure their IT infrastructure in their budgets.

The director also must send a report to Congress each year assessing agency progress in developing and implementing IT policies, significant agency deficiencies and planned remedial actions.

Langevin and McCaul's bill joins Rep. Diane Watson's Federal Information Security Amendments Act in calling for a presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed director of cybersecurity.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement passed Watson's bill Tuesday and it now goes to the full committee.

This also adds to the more than 40 current bills that address cybersecurity in some way. Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are expected to add their bill to the mix in the coming weeks as well.

Langevin and McCaul's legislation also calls for a review of threats faced to agency systems, a plan to secure federal infrastructure based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines and recommendations and a report on the current status of secure identity and authentication processes.

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