New Executive Orders and Budget Proposals Contribute to Federal Cyber Security Efforts

The White House

The U.S. Government took several steps on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 to deal with the ever-constant issue of data privacy. First, President Barack Obama issued two Executive Orders. The first Executive Order creates the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. This new Commission will fall under the U.S. Department of Commerce and be “composed of not more than 12 members appointed by the President” though Congressional leadership can offer recommendations.

The order, among other things, requires the Commission to make recommendations in several key areas including:

  • How best to bolster the protection of systems and data, including how to advance identity management, authentication, and cybersecurity of online identities, in light of technological developments and other trends;
  • Ensuring that cybersecurity is a core element of the technologies associated with the Internet of Things and cloud computing, and that the policy and legal foundation for cybersecurity in the context of the Internet of Things is stable and adaptable;
  • Further investments in research and development initiatives that can enhance cybersecurity;
  • Increasing the quality, quantity, and level of expertise of the cybersecurity workforce in the Federal Government and private sector, including through education and training;
  • Improving broad-based education of commonsense cybersecurity practices for the general public; and
  • Any other issues that the President, through the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), requests the Commission to consider.

The second Executive Order establishes the Federal Privacy Council, which will serve as “the principal interagency forum to improve the Government privacy practices of agencies and entities acting on their behalf.” The Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will serve as the chair of the Council.

The Council will consist of the Senior Agency Officials for Privacy from 23 different federal agencies including all cabinet departments and several other independent agencies including but not limited to NASA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, USAID, and the Office of Personnel Management. The chair may also invite other agencies and officials to participate.

This Executive Order also requires the Director of OMB to “issue a revised policy on the role and designation of the Senior Agency Officials for Privacy.” These officials are required to have “the experience and skills necessary to manage an agency-wide privacy program” and will work with the Federal Privacy Council.

In addition to these executive orders, President Obama submitted his last budget of $19 billion, which represents an increase of more than 30 percent over current spending levels. Three-point-one billion dollars of that is allocated to overhaul computers in the federal government. The U.S. government has experienced a number of breaches including one of the records of 22 million individuals from the Office of Personnel Management. Law enforcement is currently investigating recent claims that a hack stole the employee data of over 9,000 employees at the Department of Homeland Security and 20,000 employees at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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