Incoming Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), has tapped Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to lead a cybersecurity initiative in the next Congress.
Boehner, who will become Speaker of the House when the new Congress is sworn in next month, said that Thornberry, who will become vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, will “lead an initiative on cybersecurity that cuts across committee lines.”
Thornberry said the cybersecurity initiative “will focus Congress’s efforts to combat the growing national security and economic threat. Cybersecurity is an issue of increasing importance in the wake of a number of high-profile breeches of both public and private cyber networks.”
Cybersecurity issues in the House have been plagued by committee jurisdictional disputes between the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Armed Services Committee.
Thornberry told the Times Record News that “there’s lots of different committees that have a piece of cybersecurity, and that’s part of the problem that Congress has dealing with the issue.” In addition to being vice chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Thornberry is a high ranking Republican on the House intelligence panel.
The incoming Armed Services Committee chairman, Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), said that Thornberry will help lead the committee’s cybersecurity efforts. “Unfortunately, these challenges are becoming mainstream and oftentimes, such as the case with WikiLeaks, are cloaked in the shroud of transparency”, McKeon told the Times Record News.
One of the cybersecurity efforts left over from the Congress that just ended is an overhaul of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Bills introduced but not passed in the most recent session would have required automatation of the federal government’s information security reporting requirements and focused federal agencies’ efforts on implementing information security safeguards, among other provisions.
At least one Republican representative wants to press ahead with FISMA reform in the next session of Congress.
“Members on both sides of the aisle agree that FISMA reform should be a high priority due to its national security implications. Since its inception FISMA has turned into a paperwork nightmare rather than a comprehensive strategy to protect federal information systems. We need a singular, cost-effective way to protect government information in cyberspace”, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) was quoted by nextgov.com as saying.