Legislation that would create a National Cyber Director has been included in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The bill to establish the position, the National Cyber Director Act, was introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), the commissioner of the Cyberspace Solarium and co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. The bill would create a Senate-confirmed position in the Executive Office of the President with policy and budgetary authority to oversee the development and implementation of the national cyber strategy. The appointee would also coordinate national cyber incident response efforts.
“I’ve been working on bolstering our nation’s cybersecurity for more than a decade, and it is abundantly clear the country needs someone in charge of cybersecurity at the highest levels of government,” Langevin said. “The inclusion of the National Cyber Director Act in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act brings us closer to establishing an overarching and more effective cyber strategy to protect the nation. With increased reliance on information technology infrastructure for communication, commerce, and personal use, as well as national security purposes, it is more critical than ever that there is an expert bringing all the elements of government together and ensuring that we are pulling oars in the same direction to protect Americans.”
The creation of a National Cyber Director was also recommended in the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report released in March. The commission, which Langevin leads, was established by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, entrusted with developing actionable recommendations for a unified, strategic national response to evolving cyber threats and adversaries.
“The National Cyber Director Act represents a paradigmatic shift in how the government handles cybersecurity,” Langevin said. “The inaugural National Cyber Director will inherit a long list of priorities, from coordinating cybersecurity budgets across the entire federal government to planning to protect COVID vaccine distribution over the next several months, as well as protecting our elections. I look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration to ensure that the first National Cyber Director is properly empowered to break down silos across the many agencies with cyber responsibilities.”
The House is expected to take up the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA next week. It would then move on to the Senate.