DHS cybersecurity chief to head to The Chertoff Group

"Working at DHS has not been without its challenges but the people here have made it all worthwhile," he continued. "Government employees rarely get the credit they deserve but I can assure you that the people I’ve worked with at DHS are some of the most dedicated and selfless individuals in the world and deserve a great deal of credit for keeping our nation safe day in and day out."

Weatherford's departure comes at a critical moment when DHS is working to implement President Obama's cybersecurity executive order and also expand its cybersecurity efforts. The president's cyber order directs the department to lead a program where critical infrastructure firms would choose to adopt a set of computer security best practices into their networks and systems.

This year Congress is also looking to codify the department's authority to lead the federal government's cybersecurity efforts and work with industry to better secure their networks. However, some lawmakers have questioned whether the relatively young agency is up to the task to take on this elevated role.

Weatherford will start as a principal at the security advisory firm The Chertoff Group, which was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on May 1. In his new role, Weatherford will consult with clients on their cybersecurity practices and help them take action following a cyber incident, according to The Chertoff Group.

"During his time at DHS, Deputy Under Secretary Weatherford played an important role in enhancing the Department’s cybersecurity operations, working with federal, state and local partners and the private sector to ensure the security and resiliency of the nation’s cybersecurity networks and critical infrastructure," said Rand Beers, under secretary of the department's national protections and program directorate, which oversees its cybersecurity efforts. "His contributions will be missed and we wish him all the best at his next endeavor."

Bruce McConnell, who serves as senior counselor and director of strategy and policy for the national protections and program directorate, will step into Weatherford's role in the interim while the DHS searches for a permanent replacement, Beers said.