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03.26.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Cyberwar: hype or reality; the import of CISOs; and evolving virtual worlds

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Happy Monday… did you have a good weekend? Here in Washington, it was rainy and relatively cool… I say relatively because it was close to 80 on Friday.

Photo: Flickr member CrazyGeorge http://bit.ly/GRadZ2

On this date 20 years ago — 1982 — there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The design was controversial at the time — the names on slate layed into the ground between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument… but the site has become one of the most popular memorials in Washington. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was officially unveiled in November 1982.

Remember earlier this month, we introduced you to Jennifer Pahlka of Code for America. She is a remarkable person working to make government better. Code for America is a non-profit that provides fellowships for technology experts to work in city government. Well, CNN spoke to her over the weekend. And she told CNN that reforming city halls in America requires the talents of a new generation of technology and design experts. Remember she told us about Adopt-a-Hydrant — it’s one of the apps that a Code for America fellows wrote last year for Boston. And it allows Bostonians sign up to dig out a fire hydrant when they’re covered with snow. Good work.

A busy week ahead… Wednesday is Federal Computer Week’s annual Fed 100 Awards gala… some really remarkable winners this year. Read the full list of winners. It’s a great opportunity to remember some of the hard work that has gone on.

And then on Thursday, I’ll be at the Acquisition Excellence conference sponsored by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council. I’m moderating a morning panel that focuses on Acquisition Strategies in the age of austerity and how agencies can balance their needs with the reduced budgets. It should be a fascinating discussion.

But here today… we have a good program…

  • Cyberwar — hype or reality? We’ll have an assessment of a professor of war studies.
  • And then a very different perspective… as everybody looks to do more with less, some state and local governments are cutting their Chief Information Security Officers. We’ll look at that issue… and ramifications.
  • It sounds like something out of Star Trek — remember the halodeck… but the future of Virtual Worlds is serious business. The 5th annual Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds Conference is coming up in May. We’ll take a look at how these virtual worlds have changed and evolved over the past five years.

All that ahead…

But after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Monday the 26 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…

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Written by cdorobek

March 26, 2012 at 12:21 PM

03.23.2012 GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week: Battle of the budget, fiscal 2013

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Hey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This also closes out our third week that we’ve been daily show… and we had some good conversations this week…

Yesterday, in fact, was our producer Emily Jarvis’s favorite show so far… we spoke with one of the real thought leaders in the government space, Bill Eggers of Deloitte, about disruptive innovation and how you can be ready for it… even embrace it. And we also spoke to the man behind the federal Web site Ethics.gov, but also behind Virginia Decoded Web site — a site that was called the prettiest version of legal code… and who knew the laws of the land could be pretty… but we talked about how you can make all that data useful… usable

And earlier in the week, we spoke with Warren Suss, who has been watching the government market for decades… he joined us this week to talk about how the doing more with less is actually causing fundamental changes in the government market.

And there was some lighter stuff along the way… This week was the sixth birthday for Twitter — that ubiquitous social media platform. I started a discussion about how Twitter has changed government. It’s interesting because one person argued that Twitter is a waste of time and money — his words. I’m not sure how one can make that arguement these days. In fact, Alec Ross, who is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tech guru, has argued that Twitter and Facebook and these other sites have created a massive shift of power. He says that social media isn’t just about personal communication. It’s a collective network of users that brings great influence — and great power. We’d love to hear your thoughts about it

OH… an update on GSA’s March Madness brackets — no, not basketball. We told you earlier this week that GSA has brackets for your favorite federal architecture. We have the update… The final four starts today — and you can cast your vote… Vote on GSA’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GSA.

And I can’t really start the program today without noting that it was on this date in 1775 that Patrick Henry made his “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses, urging military action against the British Empire. The speech was made at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia and the speech spurred the the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution and add Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. There you go…

Our issue of the week… your money… the budget… and the battle of the budget: fiscal 2013 edition…

That is just ahead.

Also ahead on the program… We’ll also have your weekend reading list — the weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box. Among our items this week… amid the talk of pay freezes and pay cuts, we’ll tell you how you can meet the hackers to sell spies the tools to crack into your computer… and we’ll also tell you about a really big paper airplane. What can I say — it’s just too awesome to pass up…
All of that just ahead…

Each day on the DorobekINSIDER, we bring you the news that matters to you. On Fridays, we like to take a step back and look at the stories from the week that rose to the top. So… your government world for the past seven days… in 120 seconds… after the break…

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Written by cdorobek

March 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Posted in budget, CFO, CIOs, security

03.19.2012 DorobekINSIDER: IT strategic plan; ACT-IAC plans for 2012; and smartphone security

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Happy Monday — I hope you had a good weekend.
And I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about the new iPad. I don’t have it… YET. Yes, it was supposed to be delivered Friday, but… we are putting on an addition at home and there was an electrical issues, so… I wasn’t home on Friday to get it. I’ll get it today and report back, of course.

On today’s program…

  • Everybody is thinking mobile. And there will be a plan very soon. We’ll get a preview from the federal Deputy CIO Linda Schlosser.
  • The American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council have been bringing government and industry together for decades. We’ll talk to the leaders of both of those organization about what is changing in 2012.
  • Do you have a password on your smartphone? We will tell you why you just may want to do that.

All that ahead…

But after the break… we’ll start with the stories that impact your life for Monday the 19 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…

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Written by cdorobek

March 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

03.06.2012: DorobekINSIDER: The TAG Challenge and helping government be entrepreneurial

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So… day two of GovLoop Insight’s DorobekINSIDER. Thanks so much for being here.

Here is what we have for you today…

* We all remember tag — we all played it as kids. But what if the technologies of the Internet and the networked world could be brought to the game of tag. The TAG Challenge is going to be testing that concept later this month. And this challenge is being made possible by a State Department grant. You’ll learn about this innovative new program.

** You face big problems. How would you like to be able to tap the best minds to help solve those problems — or at least move the ball down the field. We’ll tell you about Fuse Corps…. we’re going to talk to Peter Sims, the author of the DorobekINSIDER Book Club book, Little Bets… he’s the man behind this program and we’ll get details…

** AND… feds, you have a TSP account? We’re going to have the DorobekINSIDER exit interview with the man who has kept you informed about what was going on with your Thrift Savings Plan account… he has just retired. We’ll talk to Tom Trabucco.

After the break… some updates on yesterday’s program… and the stories that impact your life for Tuesday 6 March 2012… the government world in 120-seconds…

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Written by cdorobek

March 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop issue of the week: CES, CES Government, and mobile

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GovLoop InsightsWelcome to the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek.

Each week, our goal is to where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This week, we’re going to get geeky… we’re going to embrace our inner nerd. This week was the annual gadget-a-thon known as CES — the Consumer Electronics Show out in Las Vegas. I got to attend for the first time this year — both to CES and CES Government. One of the key speakers was Steve VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer. And later on, we’ll have highlights of his speech, and talk about what it means for you.

Also later on, we’ll have our weekend reading list — the weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box.

But after the break, we’ll have our look at the week that was for the second week of January 2012… plus the full Week in Review…

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DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Issue of the Year: Cyber-security

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GovLoop InsightsThe GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is changing a few for December. Generally, we try to find a issue — a person — an idea — that helped define the past 7-days… and we always work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

For the month of December, we are taking a break from the issue of the week — and we are taking a look at the issues that defined government for the year. And we’ll unveil the issue that defined 2011 later this month. But that gives us a few weeks to look at a few of the big issues of the year. And this week, we’re going to talk about cyber-security and making sense of big data.

But first, a look at some of the big stories for the end of November and the beginning of December, 2011 — yes, the final month of the year.

Listen here…

Or read more… after the break…

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Written by cdorobek

December 2, 2011 at 5:36 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Issue of the Week: Cyber-security

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UPDATED: The GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek is posted online.
Yes, I’m starting to get back to it. (More on where I’ve been this weekend.)
One of the projects I’m working on is with GovLoop, the collaboration platform for government. And each Friday, I’m doing a podcast focused on the issue of the week. Our goal is to look at an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past seven days… but we also work to find a topic that also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.
We’ve been honing it in recent weeks — and it’s the great thing about GovLoop: They move quickly and  they are very agile. And it is still a work in progress. We are working to make it easier to find, for example. But it can be found right now at insights.govloop.com.
Each week, I’m trying to post my script here… and link to GovLoop Insights where you can find the audio.
This week, I got to sit down with Mark Bowden — the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book — Worm: The First Digital World War — and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security.
But there was other news this week:
But before we get to the big story of the week, we look at the other stories making news… and we’re trying something new this week selecting the top stories across a number of topic areas — management… policy… technology… Defense… security… Your Money…And we start with the Defense story of the week… where the new Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, made his first policy speech this week laying out his vision of the future of the nation’s fighting forcein the age of austerity. In his speech, Panetta scaled back the amount of money that the armed services can cut to $60 billion. The Pentagon has been waging an agressive battle to reduce overhead, waste and duplication. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said those efforts could save $100 billion.Panetta also said that military pay and benefits must be part of an over all austerity plan, but that the troops should not bear the burden for reducing the deficit.

He also said that lawmakers on Capitol Hill should keep pet projects out of the defense budget. Panetta said that Congress must be a responsible partner in creating a defense strategy that may not include specific projects or systems.

Read more about the speech… and read the Defense Secretary’s speech for yourself.

And we always like to follow the money, so… A few short stories about your money this week… first, your agency’s money… The budget super committee continued its meetings — very little is known about what is actually going on. Politico however, spoke to insiders to get a rough a rough sketch of the priorities of the individual members. They found that some members seem intent on guarding their turf, others want to be seen as real deal makers, while others feel the need to protect their party’s base priorities. Meanwhile National Journal says that House Democrats have offered their suggestions for cuts — and revenues. The House Democrats recommend the committee avoid “precipitous” cuts to defense and national security programs.

And Americans are skeptical about the federal government’s role in the economy and its ability to reach an agreement on the budget deficit… that according to a new poll just out from National Journal.

And YOUR money… where will the stock market end the year with only one quarter left. That, of course, impacts your Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The New York Times find that the experts are… well, they’re more pessimistic.

Our procurement story of the week… from the Government Accountability Office, which testified this week saying that most federal agencies aren’t doing enough to police unethical government contractors. GAO analyzed five years’ worth of government contracts. It found that only a handful of agencies penalized contractors. Six agencies that awarded billions of dollars to contractors never suspended nor disbarred any of them. We have a link to the GAO report online.

Our gov 2.0 story of the week comes from Fast Company, which reports that the The New York Federal Reserve Bank is going to be tracking how people feel about the economy — by watching social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the web. Fed officials wouldn’t provide many details, but… they did say that the goal is to monitor these public feeds to get a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place… and to improve the Federal Reserve’s communications and engagement with the public.

And a few tech stories — a Blackberry outage sent many Washingtonians spinning, but National Journal says that for official Washington, the Blackberry is still number one. And some experts say that isn’t likely to change quickly. Yet the new iPhone got it’s release and, as we said last week, most of the changes are behind the scene. But every indication is that customers are still thrilled. Record numbers signed up for pre-order. AND it is getting rave reviews. David Pogue of the New York Times calls the new iPhone conceals sheer magic.

Finally my must-read of the week — and it comes the Harvard Business Review — with a hat tip to the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal — and the headline is How Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management? Harvard professor James Heskett, who studies how culture affects management trends, asks a fascinating question about whether the “Moneyball” film (and book) will result in more Billy Beane-style managers in business. Moneyball is about Billy Beane, the baseball manager, who is credited with revolutionizing baseball by focusing not only on metrics, but on the sort of indirect metrics that others were ignoring — and that are particularly key to winning games, such as performance in late-inning pressure situations he discusses the  importance of adding non-financial measures to the management dashboard, “indirect goals” that help predict and explain financial performance beyond the “direct goal” of profit. VERY interesting for government. Heskett has written a new book himself: The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance. In that book, he comes up with  35 indirect measures key to future company performance. They included such things as the proportion of new business referred by existing customers and the proportion of employees leaving the organization voluntarily. My thought was what might be those non-financial metrics for government.

But our Issue of the Week is one that has been dominant throughout 2011 — cyber-security. And it is about another book that I told you about a few weeks ago. This week I got to sit down for a conversation with Mark Bowden — the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book — Worm: The First Digital World War — and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security. There have been many stories in recent weeks about the challenges facing government cyber-security experts— with a skyrocketing number of attacks.Worm is really a story as old as time — good guys vs bad guys…

And that brings us to the GovLoop Insights Question of the Week: How should the government prioritize cyber-security in this age of austerity. We don’t have to tell you that money is tight. So — where does cyber-security get prioritize?It’s GovLoop — so we’d love to get your thoughts.
The GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is still a work in progress. I’d love to get your thoughts…. about what we are doing… what we should be doing…

Written by cdorobek

October 14, 2011 at 11:24 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Fired VA employee Martinez reinstated by MSPB

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Adair Martinez, who was fired by the Department of Veterans Affairs following a series of scathing inspector general reports alleging sex and lies, has been reinstated by the Merit Systems Protection Board. 

Former VA IT employee Adair Martinez

The initial decision by Judge Lynne Yovino of the Merit Systems Protection Board, handed down Friday, says that Martinez was not given due process — essentially that her Fifth Amendment rights were violated.

The judge determined VA CIO Roger Baker violated Martinez’s Constitutional rights when he pre-judged charges of misconduct made against her by the VA Office of Inspector General, said Kevin Gary Owen, the attorney for Martinez. The Department of Veterans Affairs was ordered to reinstate Martinez to her job as Deputy Assistant Secretary and pay her lost wages and attorneys fees.

The series of IG reports alleged that Martinez, a former high-ranking information technology officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs, gave preferential treatment to certain contractors and engaged in nepotism in hiring. The IG reports allege that Martinez took advantage of a relationship with a supervisor for personal gain.

The decision says that VA CIO Roger Baker did not give Martinez a fair opportunity to defend herself. Quoting the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling said, the “core of due process is the right to notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard,” and that the VA did not give Martinez that opportunity.

“In my view, because Baker’s testimony was tainted by his prior review of the evidence and concurrence in the violations, his later claim that he nonetheless provided the appellant with a meaningful opportunity to reply is unavailing.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs must decide whether it will appeal by May 6. 

Read the full ruling — and find links to the VA Office of Inspector General reports — after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

April 5, 2011 at 2:26 PM

DorobekINSIDER: NASA cyber-security chief Jerry Davis to join VA

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Jerry Davis, the widely respected chief information security officer at NASA, is leaving that agency to join the Department of Veterans Affairs, the DorobekINSIDER has confirmed.

The move had been widely rumored for months, but was just made official when Davis accepted the offer from the VA on Friday.

While NASA has has its own share of cyber-security issues, the challenges at VA are daunting. Not only is VA the second largest agency in government, but it is the poster child for cyber-security problems dating back to that now infamous stolen laptop that was loaded with millions of names and personal information on vets.

Back in 2006, the data on  26.5 million active duty troops and veterans were on the laptop and external drive, which disappeared while in the custody of a Veterans Affairs data analyst in 2006.

While none of those data became public — and it wasn’t a result of a cyber-attack but rather a common house burglary, it has become the most discussed cyber-security event, even more than four years later. And the event cost the agency $20 million in a settlement.

Read more and hear GAO’s assessment of VA’s IT situation here… or read the GAO report here. [PDF]

Davis talking about that on Federal News Radio’s Federal Security Spotlight [July 1, 2010]… and on Federal News Radio’s Federal Drive about changing ways of measuring cyber-security [May 28, 2010]

From NextGov:

[Davis told] his staff on Tuesday to shift their focus from certifying that networks are compliant with a nearly decade-old law to monitoring systems for holes and real-time reporting of threats.
The change is a watershed moment for federal information technology managers, who since 2002 have been required to follow a law that critics say forces IT staffs to spend days filling out reports that confirm technology managers have followed certain security procedures. The law did not require specific actions to secure systems, said opponents of the Federal Information Security Management Act.

Jerry Davis, NASA’s deputy chief information officer for IT security, issued a memo to information system managers informing them they no longer need to certify every three years that their networks are compliant with FISMA, as called for by the law. Instead, they should rely on automated continuous monitoring to find holes that hackers could exploit. The process will remain in effect as long as agencies are required to submit annual status reports for networks and vulnerabilities detected during the monitoring don’t pose unacceptable risk.
Here is Davis’s most recent bio:

Jerry L. Davis is the Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO), IT Security for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Jerry’s role is to provide thought leadership and oversee all aspects of Information Security and privacy for the Agency to include the development and implementation of enterprise-wide IT security engineering and architecture, IT security governance and IT security operations capabilities. Jerry’s division also generates IT and data security solutions and services to the Agency’s Space Operations, Science, Exploration Systems and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorates programs and projects, while defending $1.8 billion in annual IT investments.

Previously, Jerry served as the DCIO for the Department of Education overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Department’s enterprise-wide IT infrastructure. During his tenure at the Department, Jerry also served as the Department’s first Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Director, Information Assurance (IA). In this role, Jerry’s teams proactively defended over $500 million dollars in annual IT investments, which supported the $400 billion dollar grants and loans portfolio.

Jerry was one of the principal thought leaders in the design, implementation and management of the District of Columbia’s first city-wide IT Security program and served as the Manager of Wide Area Network (WAN) Security Architecture. Jerry also held positions as a senior security consultant with several Fortune 500 consulting firms, serving clients in the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD) and federal civilian agencies. Jerry held a staff position with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Operations (DO) for several years. Jerry is a combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps and trained as a Counterintelligence Specialist with focus on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations. He holds a masters degree in network security from a National Security Agency (NSA) Center of Excellence in Information Assurance and a bachelors of science in business with a concentration in IT security. Jerry has done doctoral work in the field of information systems and holds the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications. Mr Davis won the People’s Choice Award at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Region Information Security Executive of the Year and was selected as one of the 50 Most Important African Americans in Technology in 2009.

Written by cdorobek

July 26, 2010 at 8:04 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Throwing elbows over cyber-security legislation

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It appears that the effort to pass a cyber-security bill is going to get a bit more tough then expected.

Late last month, officials from Cisco, IBM and Oracle sent a letter to the main sponsors of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, S. 3480 — Senators Joe Lieberman (DI-Conn.) Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.). The letter raised concerns about some provisions of the bill:

While well intentioned, it ultimately puts U.S. critical infrastructure at increased risk by threatening the intellectual property of American companies that create the IT that operates the vast majority of U.S. government and private-sector critical networks and systems.  The unintended result may be a weakening of the domestic software and hardware industry to an extent that could, ironically, leave the U.S. more dependent upon foreign suppliers for their critical IT systems.

The letter goes on to raise specific concerns about detailed provisions of the bill. You can read the full copy of the letter here.

The Senators issued a forceful response — a letter addressed specifically to the heads of those companies — and it was posted right on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Web site. In the response, they refer to the concerns as “mischaracterizations” of the bill:

This legislation is informed by years of oversight by this Committee and is the result of more than a year of drafting. Our staff spent considerable time working with industry representatives – including representatives from your companies – and the bill, as reported, addresses many of the concerns your companies raised during that time…

Your input on this important legislation is important to our Committee, and both our staff and yours have invested considerable time in this process. While we find the mischaracterizations of our bill in your letter inaccurate and disappointing, we welcome further discussion and hope that we can engage in a constructive dialogue going forward.

Again, you can read the full response here.

Meanwhile, Politico’s Morning Tech is reporting that the House version of the bill is having some trouble.

Staff representing the Senate’s top players in the cybersecurity debate – Rockefeller, Snowe, Collins, Lieberman, Carper – will begin huddling this week over ways to merge the chamber’s top two proposals. But the path forward in the House is still unclear.

The lower chamber’s version of the Lieberman-Collins-Carper plan, spearheaded by Reps. Jane Harman and Pete King, is still pending consideration by a slew of committees that all share jurisdiction. And the committee closest to the action – the House Homeland Security panel – plans to introduce its own bill soon, pitched by Chairman Thompson. Meanwhile, a Senate Dem aide tells Morning Tech that it is unclear whether Rep. Jim Langevin, another cybersecurity leader, is writing his own comprehensive legislation. Stay tuned.

IT WILL BE THE HOUSE SCI/TECH COMMITTEE that will take the first stab at cybersecurity once both chambers return from recess next week. The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee announced late Tuesday it had invited industry leaders from EPIC, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Council on Foreign Relations and Ponte Technologies to its scheduled July 15 hearing – and it promises additional witness announcements to come soon.

Read Politico’s Morning Tech here.

Written by cdorobek

July 7, 2010 at 9:32 AM