WH creates 'E-Gov Cyber' unit to oversee agency security

The White House has created an “E-Gov Cyber” unit that will oversee agencies’ cybersecurity initiatives and issue its own security protocols.

The unit will also work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate responses to federal agency data breaches.

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The team, housed within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is the result of legislation passed late last Congress. The measures gave the OMB the strategic role in creating government cyber defense plans and tasked the DHS with implementing the plans.

The OMB said it developed the E-Gov Cyber unit to formalize its role in overseeing federal cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity authorities within the government have long been informal and overlapping. The White House and lawmakers have been trying to address the issue through legislation and policy statements.

The series of bills Congress pushed through during its lame-duck session codified the DHS's role for the first time. The measures officially authorized the existing DHS cyber information sharing hub, known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).

The White House followed congressional efforts with its own policy announcements. The administration made clear it wanted the DHS at the center of implementing the government’s cybersecurity efforts.

President Obama has been pressing lawmakers to pass further legislation that would put the NCCIC at the center of a public-private exchange of cybersecurity threat data, even mentioning the issue during his State of the Union address.

The E-Gov Cyber team will now be firmly at the center of reviews of federal agencies’ cyber risks. Based on these reviews, the unit will recommend different tools and security processes for agencies.

The team will also play an oversight role for a DHS network security initiative, the Continuous Diagnostics and Monitoring program.

The effort is intended to strengthen non-Defense Department networks.

The White House requested nearly $103 million for the program in its budget released yesterday.