Billions of new money to spend. Major new responsibilities at the senior-most reaches of the federal government. Sounds like a pretty good gig, doesn't it? But as Kevin Coleman reports at Defense Tech, the job of cyber czar just can't find a taker. One of the obvious problems with the job is that it comes with few operational power levers but is one of those coordinating jobs, complete with a staff slot on the National Security Council. But anyone who takes it will have to contend with the fact that the recently appointed head of Cyber Command will control most of the people and most of the tasks, along with the Department of Homeland Security. Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, NSA director and the new head of Cyber Command is an ebullient and wily player who by all accounts would offer any czar a very difficult target.
Some of our readers know much about this area of endeavor and I'd love to hear what you are hearing about all this.
Kevin's story follows:
Many have criticized the Obama administration's use of czars as a power grab, and a way to centralize power within the executive branch without congressional oversight.
Back in May, President Obama announced that he will create a "cyber czar" (cyber security coordinator) position. The Cyber Czar would be one of nearly three dozen czars appointed by the Obama administration in six months. However, unlike the other thirty-four czars, this one remains unfilled. This czar would be a senior White House official with broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private information infrastructure and coordinate efforts to protect and defend our nation against cyber attacks.
In addition, the new czar would be a member of the National Security Council and would report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser. The fact that the recent low level cyber skirmishes that took place over the July 4th weekend were able to disrupt a number of government web site operations clearly shows the need for the Cyber Czar. Security experts have all sounded the alarm and raised concerns about the exposure our nation faces when it comes to cyber threats.
Multiple people have been asked to accept the position and so far there were no takers. Ever stop and consider why? Perhaps it is because the position has the responsibility without the authority necessary to make it happen. Others say it is because it is nearly impossible to be successful. My opinion is it is a combination of both.
The administration needs to name a technically and politically knowledgeable and capable Cyber Czar. Lead - follow or get out of the way!