ITAA's Garcia to be Homeland Security cybersecurity chief

Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday announced the appointment of Greg Garcia to fill the open position of DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications.

Garcia, vice president for information security programs at the Information Technology Association of America trade group in Arlington, Va., will be the first to serve at the assistant secretary level.

Earlier appointees?including most recently Amit Yoran, who lasted just a year as director of the DHS National Cyber Security Division, much lower in the giant department's organization?had lamented the lack of visibility on the issue of cybersecurity. Industry groups have lobbied since the formation of DHS in early 2003 for the role to exist at the assistant secretary level.

"I think they picked the right guy, and if they took a while [about it], they're done. I'd like to focus on that," said Joe Tasker, senior vice president of government affairs at ITAA. "This is his forte, translating real, hard-core technology into policy."

IT industry representatives appear to be satisfied with Garcia's selection as well.

"Greg is a solid pick for the position. He knows information security issues and has good connections in the private sector. He is also earnest and focused," said Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. "This combination, with consistent senior support within DHS, will enable DHS to move forward on critical information security issues."

Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of the Business Software Alliance, another industry trade group, was equally pleased.

"We applaud the secretary's nomination of Greg and welcome the opportunity to continue our work together. Greg brings a wealth of knowledge to the government's cybersecurity program, as well as a deep understanding of policy and the know-how to get things accomplished in Washington," Holleyman said. "He understands that government has a critical role to play, and his experience in the private sector provides a unique perspective on industry's critical role in strengthening our collective approach to protecting the data security infrastructure."

Garcia has been with ITAA since 2003. Before that, he served on the majority staff of the House Science Committee, where he was the panel's liaison to the private sector.

According to his ITAA bio, Garcia particularly played an active role under the leadership of committee chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y) in drafting and shepherding to passage the Cyber Security R&D Act of 2002. He came to Capitol Hill after a two-and-half-year stint as head of 3Com Corp.'s government relations office in Washington. He also worked for a grassroots policy advocacy group on technology issues and spent six years lobbying on international trade policy for the American Electronics Association.

Garcia is a graduate of San Jose State University in California.

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