Talks heat up behind cybersecurity law

Senior Senate staff members working on the issue of cybersecurity and how to address it in law

Senators are beginning talks on pushing cybersecurity legislation, hoping for a successful run this time.

Top Senate staff members have been in discussions for several weeks, working to parse language from at least two separate cybersecurity bills that were introduced but not passed in the previous Congress, while senators have just joined the talks, according to Molly Wilkinson, counsel for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Senior leadership in the Senate is working toward the issue of cybersecurity and how to address it,” Wilkinson said March 17 during a panel discussion at the Coalition for Government Procurement’s Spring Conference. However, she added that the talks were in the beginning stages.


Related stories:

Lieberman: No kill switch in new bill

Cybersecurity solution needs better partnerships, not more rules, group says


Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 last June. The committee approved the legislation by voice vote in December, but it died in the full Senate.

A similar bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2010, was introduced by Sens. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a committee member, in April 2009. The panel approved the legislation, but the Senate never acted on it.

Now, Wilkinson said, staff members from the two committees, as well as the intelligence committee and others, are trying to find the best of both bills and merge them into one.

The Lieberman-Collins bill would create both an office in the White House to deal with cyberspace policies and a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) at the Homeland Security Department. The NCCC would help drive strategies regarding cybersecurity while considering the government’s critical infrastructure. Also, the legislation would have the Office of Personnel Management reform the way it recruits employees for cybersecurity positions and require acquisition offices to develop protections against threats that may sneak in through the supply chain.

The Rockefeller-Snowe legislation would bolster the cybersecurity workforce by developing training and certification requirements. It would require the president to develop ways to prepare the federal government for a cyberattack, including defining federal cybersecurity employees’ responsibilities in case of an attack. The government would need to partner with the private sector on an advisory panel to keep up with trends in research and new concerns about the government’s ability to respond appropriately to attacks, among other issues.

The fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law in January, also included cybersecurity provisions, including pilot projects, provisions for buying safe computer software, and strategies for acquisition and oversight of the Defense Department’s cyber warfare abilities.

Three months into the new Congress, a number of bills regarding cybersecurity have been introduced.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Wed, Mar 23, 2011

Congress could not wait to eliminate raises for federal employees and tout furloughs and other cost savings measures which work against the federal workforce. The whole emphasis was on cutting costs. Now Congress wants to establish TWO offices to deal with cybersecurity???? Really????? Are federal workers supposed to give up their first born to provide funds for this endeavor??????

Tue, Mar 22, 2011

No, not Yet Another Cybersecurity Feifdom. We have way too many offices that think they are in charge already. Somebody needs to make a list, and rationalize the existing offices and resources, before they add any more.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close
SEARCH
 Top 100 Slideshow
contracts DB

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Read More

  • Is SBA MIA on contractor fraud? Nick Wakeman

    Editor Nick Wakeman explores the puzzle of why SBA has been so silent on the latest contractor fraud scandal when it has been so quick to act in other cases. Read More

Webcasts