Obama has yet to review cybersecurity executive order, Napolitano says
A draft of the executive order on cybersecurity has circulated in the Obama administration, but President Barack Obama himself has yet to review it, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Oct. 25.
In the meantime, she said, the administration has reached out to the private sector and other stakeholders for their feedback about what the order should look like if Obama does choose to issue one.
Napolitano, who spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., stressed that the administration would prefer that Congress pass cybersecurity legislation so it doesn't have to resort to an executive order.
She said she was holding out hope that when Congress returns from its recess in November, it will take up the issue again, as Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, has indicated it might.
As for the Homeland Security Department's own efforts, the secretary said an initiative she announced in 2009 for DHS to hire up to 1,000 cybersecurity professionals had not moved as quickly as she had hoped.
The relatively slow pace led her to commission a task force earlier this year to improve cybersecurity skills in DHS. The task force released a report earlier this month that recommends the department build a team of 600 cybersecurity professionals.
Until it reaches that goal, the report says, DHS should use most of its direct hire authority related to information technology to bring in people with cybersecurity skills. The report also says the goal of 600 employees may change once DHS completes its departmentwide review of its current workforce's cybersecurity skills.
Napolitano said she realizes that "not everyone wants to come work for the government. Go figure." DHS has sought other ways to bolster its cybersecurity efforts such as a program where the private sector lends executives to the department for a year or two.
Those executives learn about how DHS works what its missions are, and DHS gets a sense of what the private sector is working on, she said.
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