The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally has someone to lead its increasingly important cybersecurity hub.

Andy Ozment, currently the assistant secretary of the DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communication, will assume the top role. John Felker will run day-to-day operations, moving over from a senior private sector cyber position at HP Enterprise Services.

{mosads}The DHS cyber center — known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) — is the government’s main intake facility for private sector cyber threat information. The center analyzes the data, dishing out warnings and advice to other government agencies, as well as to private companies.

“Dr. Ozment and Mr. Felker will provide a combination of operational experience, leadership, and strategic insight needed to take the NCCIC to the next level for our cybersecurity,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

Lawmakers have been pushing to give the NCCIC a greater role in defending the nation’s networks from hackers.

Legislation passed late last year officially codified the center’s role for the first time. And several bills pending this year would increase the volume of data the NCCIC would have to process from the private sector.

As a result, DHS has been boosting the NCCIC’s responsibilities.

“Given the central importance of the NCCIC to the DHS cybersecurity mission, I have determined that we must elevate the NCCIC within our department’s structure, with an incident reporting line directly to me as Secretary,” Johnson said Monday.

The department will also restructure NCCIC in the coming months so it is focused “on strengthening our operational capabilities for mitigating and responding to cyber incidents,” Johnson added.

For almost a year, the center has been without permanent leadership. The previous director, Larry Zelvin, retired last August after three decades in government spent helping businesses thwart malicious hackers.

In several congressional hearings this year, Johnson told lawmakers he was looking for “a recognized all-star” to head his agency’s cybersecurity hub.

It appears that all-star was already at the agency.

Ozment will now play double-duty, retaining his current position.

Before coming to the DHS, Ozment was President Obama’s senior director for cybersecurity at the White House. He’s also been in cyber roles at the Defense Department and the National Security Agency.

Before moving to HP, Felker was the vice president of cyber programs at SCI Consulting.

Felker’s industry career was preceeded by three decades with the U.S. Coast Guard. During that time, he served as deputy commander of the agency’s Cyber Command, where he ran day-to-day operations. Felker also oversaw the Coast Guard’s cryptologic group.


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