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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