Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 6, 2008

Senate Demands Details About New Cyber Initiative

Filed under: Cybersecurity — by Jonah Czerwinski on May 6, 2008

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee issued an eight-page letter to Secretary Chertoff demanding details about the ministration’s new Cyber Initiative. This follows the classified hearing the Committee held on March 4.

The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), formally established in January, is intended to strengthen the federal government’s ability to secure the electronic networks and databases of the federal government. According to the Committee, the March hearing included a threat assessment from DHS and the National Security Agency and a review of the interagency roles and responsibilities of the CNCI. The following witnesses testified:

• Robert D. Jamison, Under Secretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security;
• Melissa A. Hathaway, Cyber Coordination Executive, Office of the Director of National Intelligence;
• G. Dennis Bartko, Special Assistant to the Director for Cyber at the National Security Agency; and
• Scott O’Neal, Section Chief, Cyber Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Administration received $115 million for FY 2008 to fund the Cyber Initiative, and another $83 million is being requested for FY09. The Committee puts this into context by explaining the budget request as a three-fold increase over the course of one year.

Here’s where things get a little tense. Senators Lieberman and Collins, chair and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, yesterday released a letter they sent to Secretary Chertoff asking for specific information about the CNCI, its dependence on contractors, and the potential lack of involvement by the private sector, which owns and/or operates the majority of the nation’s cyber infrastructure.

Such basic details as the role of the National Cyber Security Center and the authority under which its director was named. In terms of metrics, the Committee would like to know how DHS will determine when the CNCI is succeeding and Einstein is measuring something tangible.

If I were a betting man, this looks like the beginning of another investigation from the GAO….

Click here to view the full text of the letter.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 6, 2008 @ 10:35 am

According to the Information Security Oversight Office ( I believe now part of GSA and formerly independent) and current classification guidance including Executive Orders on classification, nothing in any program, function or activity of the Executive Branch can be orginially classified until program officials have produced a so-called “Classification Guide.” It might be interesting to know if this new program has complied with that basic requirement.

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