DHS Secretary Says Cabinet-Level IT Position Unnecessary

DHS Secretary Says Cabinet-Level IT Position Unnecessary
DHS Secretary Says Cabinet-Level IT Position Unnecessary 

By Kelly Jackson Higgins
Oct 20, 2009

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today 
basically dismissed the concept of a cabinet-level IT position for 
technology and cybersecurity, noting that IT networks and services 
underlie most operations today.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered an unprecedented Web address 
this morning -- which came on the heels of a video address on 
cybersecurity by President Obama last week -- urging citizens and 
businesses to help in the fight against cybercrime and cyberattacks, and 
detailing her department's role in the fight. In a brief Q&A session 
following her online speech, Napolitano said, "It's really hard to 
segregate [IT] out."

"I'm not sure that I think that a cabinet-level position is necessary. 
And the reason is that cyber runs through everything that we do as a 
government," she said when asked why there was no cabinet-level IT 
position. "I think one of the things we're learning as we enter this new 
cyber arena is that segregating it into an IT function is no longer 
adequate. Again, as my remarks suggested, cyber is part of everything we 
do, from the most basic transaction."

Cyber should be "part of our thinking in all departments," she said. 
"But added to that now, the president has included a chief technology 
officer -- a chief information officer -- in the White House, and he 
will be appointing a coordinator for cyber within the White House to 
help make sure that cyber is part of all that we do throughout the vast 
array of the federal government as we move forward."

The secretary did not say when or who would be named to the 
much-anticipated cybersecurity czar slot -- a position that remains 
unfilled. Frank Kramer, a former assistant secretary of defense in the 
Clinton administration, was considered the front-runner as of last 
month, and industry experts had predicted President Obama would announce 
his new cybersecurity official this month to coincide with Cybersecurity 
Awareness Month. But so far, there has been no word from the White 


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