The new Administration’s cybersecurity roadmap

“Alejandro Mayorkas, the new secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, recently gave a speech providing an extensive look at what he termed his ‘vision and roadmap’ for the department’s upcoming cybersecurity efforts. A number of items in his March 31 remarks bear further exploration, as they will set the tone for the Biden administration’s approach to cybersecurity in the months and maybe the years to come.

At the outset, Mayorkas emphasized how important it is for the federal government to modernize its technology and to work with the private sector to address our nation’s cybersecurity challenges. But this has been stated so many times by so many government officials. By themselves, those promises won’t move the needle on cyber. They will require more specific and enduring follow-up actions, such as requesting more money for technology modernization from Congress and providing sufficient flexibility to best utilize those funds. The recent $1 billion expansion of the Technology Modernization Fund, or TMF, will be helpful but the federal government spends, by some accounts, about $90 billion annually on technology. So the administration must seek, and more importantly, Congress will have to provide, additional appropriations next year—and in the future—for the TMF to truly modernize the technology used by all federal departments and agencies.

It was interesting to see that Mayorkas mentioned the Biden administration’s desire to prioritize investments ‘inside and outside of government’ to enable ‘bold and immediate innovations.’ He also previewed an upcoming executive order on cybersecurity, which he said will include, among other things, improvements in the area of federal procurement for cyber tools.

The details of how these goals will be pursued are still to be announced. But it would be especially impactful if they were to include embracing a significant expansion of the use of other transaction authorities and other rapid acquisition strategies so important to obtaining innovative technologies and making a firm, governmentwide commitment to direct procurement offices down the line to follow the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, which gives a preference to acquiring commercial-off-the-shelf technology items whenever possible…” Read the full article here.

Source: The Biden Administration’s Cybersecurity Roadmap – By Robert DuPree, April 13, 2021. Nextgov.

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