National Cyber Director Act Will Be Included in Year-end Defense Bill

Dec 3, 2020 Issues: Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON – Cyberspace Solarium Commissioner Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, today announced that legislation he has led to establish a National Cyber Director has been included in the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) released today. The provision, which is based on Langevin’s National Cyber Director Act, would create a Senate-confirmed position in the Executive Office of the President with policy and budgetary authority to oversee development and implementation of the national cyber strategy and to 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,” said Langevin. “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. I thank Congressman Mike Gallagher for helping to advance this bipartisan bill, House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney for holding a hearing on this important legislation, Senator Angus King for championing this provision in the Senate, and Senator Mike Rounds for helping us refine the language to move forward.”

In 2010, Langevin first introduced legislation to create a White House cyber director based on a recommendation from the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, which he co-chaired. Most recently, the creation of a National Cyber Director was included as a key recommendation in the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report released in March. The Commission was established by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 and was entrusted with developing actionable recommendations for a unified, strategic national response to evolving threats and adversaries in cyberspace.

“The National Cyber Director Act represents a paradigmatic shift in how the government handles cybersecurity,” continued Langevin. “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 NDAA authorizes national defense spending and has been passed by Congress for 59 consecutive years. The House is expected to take up the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA, which includes the provision to establish the National Cyber Director, next week. After passage in the Senate, the bill would head to the President’s desk for his signature to become law.