Yoran to testify on proposed cybersecurity post

Amit Yoran, former Homeland Security Department cybersecurity chief, is slated to testify Wednesday before a House subcommittee regarding legislation to create a new assistant secretary position overseeing a National Cybersecurity Office at DHS.

The House Homeland Security subcommittee on economic security, infrastructure protection and cybersecurity is set to write up the bill, H.R. 285, at a 2 p.m. markup Wednesday, following the 11 a.m. hearing on the bill.

The legislation comes after months of criticism that sensitive DHS information is vulnerable to hackers. Yoran quit in October after a year on the job, reportedly unhappy that he did not have sufficient clout within DHS. He was the third federal cybersecurity official to resign in two years.

Legislation backers hope the new office and assistant secretary's position will provide the authority that was lacking in the post held by Yoran and his predecessors.

Yoran, who is now a consultant, is scheduled to testify at the subcommittee's 11 a.m. hearing. The legislation was initially introduced last year and reintroduced in January. Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), both members of the homeland security committee, are its sponsors.

The legislation would create the new assistant secretary position "to have primary authority within the department for all cybersecurity-related critical infrastructure protection programs of the department, including with respect to policy formulation and program management," the bill states. The new post also has primary authority over the National Communications System.

The new assistant secretary's position will be "subject to the direction and control of the secretary" and will coordinate with other department heads and the private sector. The National Cybersecurity Office will reside within the Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, under the bill.

Separately, the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Management, Integration and Oversight will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday on management challenges facing the department. Scheduled to testify are Acting Inspector General Richard Skinner and the department's former inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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