DHS Splits Cyber Arm

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 @ 01:09 PM gHale


The agency that handles quite a few of the government’s cyber security responsibilities is about to get a makeover in the wake of the departure of its deputy undersecretary.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is working to secure federal civilian agency networks and coordinate cyber security with the private sector.

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DHS undersecretary Rand Beers told staff in an email in response to “the growing importance of cyber security to DHS and the nation as a whole,” DHS is splitting Phil Reitinger’s former job in two. DHS will now have one new deputy undersecretary position that exclusively deals with cyber security and another that helps protect critical infrastructure, secures federal facilities, and the manages the US-VISIT biometric identity management system used to identify and track foreign visitors.

Beers said the agency will announce the name of the permanent deputy undersecretary for cyber security, but in the interim, Greg Schaeffer, a former Alltel and PricewaterhouseCoopers executive who had been Reitinger’s second-in-command since 2009, will serve as acting deputy undersecretary for cyber security.

The DHS has taken on a growing role in cyber security over the last several years.

“This position will help the directorate ensure robust operations and strengthened partnerships in the constantly evolving field of cyber security,” Beers wrote in the email.

Whoever takes the new position will have to deal with significant recent turnover in top leadership. In addition to the departure of Reitinger, Sean McGurk, the former director of DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, left his post effective last Friday, and Randy Vickers, former director of the United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), resigned in July.

In managing US-VISIT, facilities security, and DHS’ work with critical infrastructure sectors, the other new deputy undersecretary job, which long-time intelligence community and congressional staffer Suzanne Spaulding will fill, will continue to have IT-related responsibilities.

Spaulding, who will join DHS in October, was most recently a principal for the Bingham Consulting Group. Spaulding has served as senior counsel to former Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., a top staffer for the House of Representatives’ and Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency, and a member of government commissions on national security issues.



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