A bill with bipartisan Congressional support proposes to create a national cyber-security czar who would report directly to the president.
The bill, called the National Cyber Director Act, would create a position to “serve as the President’s principal advisor on cybersecurity and associated emerging technology issues and function as the lead national-level coordinator for cyber strategy and policy,” according to a press release from one of the bill’s sponsors, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.).
“After more than a decade studying this issue, I can say with great certainty: cybersecurity policy is complicated,” said Langevin, who has co-chaired the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus since its founding in 2008. “By establishing a National Cyber Director with the policy and budgetary authority to reach across government, we can better address cybersecurity vulnerabilities and gaps holistically and prevent catastrophic cyber incidents.”
Co-sponsoring the bill are U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), and Will Hurd (R-Texas).
The creation of a National Cyber Director is a major recommendation of the Solarium Commission, a Congressionally chartered group that includes members of Congress and the Trump administration, as well as private sector leaders.
A federal advisor specializing in cyber-security issues is not a new idea, but the position has been marginalized under the Trump administration. President Donald Trump’s current cyber-security advisor is Rudy Giuliani, who months after being named to the post in 2017 had trouble unlocking his iPhone and is known to butt-dial members of the press.
The position of a cyber-security advisor was first created during the George W. Bush administration. The first post was filled by both Howard Schmidt and Richard Clarke, who served as “special” cyber-security advisers.
In December 2009, President Barack Obama created the position of White House Cybersecurity Coordinator and appointed Schmidt. Two other men later held the position.
The Trump administration eliminated the position in 2018 at the advice of then-National Security Adviser John Bolton.
According to Langevin, the National Cyber Director “would fulfill a similar policy role to the Cybersecurity Coordinator, but the position would be backed with additional statutory authority to review cybersecurity budgets and coordinate national incident response.”