New cyber authorities in new DHS legislation

Tom O'Keefecybersecurity, department of homeland securityBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

A bill that has just made its way through the House would finally reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security, which has only been authorized once, in 2002.

There are several cyber provisions included in the House bill, which could mean a lot of opportunity for cybersecurity vendors if it ends up passing in the Senate (where it has, unfortunately, stalled before). But there’s a good chance that even if the bill doesn’t pass, we’ll see some of the additional authorities and responsibilities making their way to DHS components anyway.

Most of the specific provisions in the bill of interest here are ones that require certain components to own responsibility for cybersecurity of various locations. For example, the Transportation Security Administration would be responsible for assessing the cybersecurity of aviation systems, including airports and airlines, developing an information sharing project across the airline industry and assessing the vulnerabilities of the systems that house TSA PreCheck.

The bill also states that the U.S. Coast Guard would be responsible for cyber protections at U.S. ports, something that the agency has been working on for some time.

There may also be expanded cyber authorities for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which you’ll recall has been up for reorganization for several years now. While this current House bill wouldn’t include the NPPD reorg in the Cyber and Infrastructure Protection Agency, there’s talk of a second bill being submitted to the floor that would include the reorg. While that might delay some purchasing activity while things get sorted out, expect the resulting group to have new needs and demands for expanded cybersecurity tools.

Also, keep an eye out for a mobile application security group within DHS’s Science and Technology directorate – while S&T isn’t an organization that buys a ton, they typically prototype capabilities that can then be shared across the department.

Have you heard? Registration for immixGroup’s 4th Annual Government IT Sales Summit is underway. Don’t miss out on early-bird savings and don’t miss out on hearing Tom deliver his annual briefing on IT trends among civilian agencies.

About Tomas O'Keefe
Tom O'Keefe has over 10 years of market research experience as an Analyst and Consultant in the federal space. He also earned an MA in Political Science from George Mason University. He has covered both civilian and defense agencies and has presented to clients ranging from junior-level associates to executives from some of the largest Systems Integrators and contractors in the federal marketplace.

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