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By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 18, 2006
More than a year after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
publicly promised to bring in a top cybersecurity specialist, he
finally hired one.
Chertoff said on Monday that Gregory Garcia, who has been working at a
Washington-area trade association, would become the department's first
assistant secretary for cybersecurity, with responsibility for
advising agencies and the private sector.
The announcement ends a vacancy at Homeland Security that lasted more
than 14 months and a wait that drew criticism from members of
Congress, who it said demonstrated that Chertoff has not taken the
"Quite simply, our nation has been without adequate leadership on
cybersecurity," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, wrote in an opinion
article that CNET News.com published in July. Republicans have also
recently criticized Homeland Security's cybersecurity efforts, and a
series of government reports has painted a picture of bureaucratic
Chertoff acknowledged last year that he had "initial concerns" about
raising the profile of cybersecurity in a bureaucratic culture that
had focused on physical threats since Sept. 11, 2001. It took a formal
vote last May in the U.S. House of Representatives to create the
position--and an expected one in the Senate--to prompt Chertoff to
acquiesce two months later.
Garcia, who prior to accepting his new position was a vice president
at the Information Technology Association of America, will succeed
Donald "Andy" Purdy Jr., a two-year contract employee on loan from
Carnegie Mellon University. Purdy, who has been criticized for taking
the job of running a department that awarded at least $19 million in
contracts to his university employer this year, was the acting
It's not clear what took Homeland Security so long to fill the job,
but some industry watchers have characterized it as having
high-profile responsibility but little day-to-day authority over
either the federal government or the private sector. (Johns Hopkins
University Professor Avi Rubin said: "I sure wouldn't take that
job--it only has a downside.")
In an appearance before Congress, Chertoff said last year that the
assistant secretary "should not sit at the center of all federal
agencies and direct and control their policies on information sharing
Washington veterans who know Garcia applauded Monday's announcement.
It's "a year late but a positive development," said Shannon Kellogg,
director of government and industry affairs for RSA, the security
division of EMC. "To me, it's worth the wait. They really have someone
who can get the job done."
Previous cybersecurity "czars" have been, besides Purdy, Richard
Clarke, a veteran of the Clinton and first Bush administrations who
left the post with a lucrative book deal. Clarke effectively was
succeeded in quick succession by Howard Schmidt, also known for
testifying in favor of the Communications Decency Act, then Amit Yoran
and Robert Liscouski.
Garcia will join an already complicated and sprawling hierarchy at the
Department of Homeland Security. There's also an undersecretary for
management, an undersecretary for science and technology, an assistant
secretary for policy, an undersecretary for preparedness, an assistant
secretary for intelligence and analysis, and assistant secretary for
legislative affairs, an assistant secretary for public affairs, an
assistant secretary for transportation security, an assistant
secretary for immigration and customs, and an undersecretary for FEMA.
That's not counting a multitude of directors and commissioners
(including the head of the U.S. Secret Service) who also report to
Chertoff (click here for PDF of a departmental organizational
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