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Senators urge White House to speed cyber policy updates

Leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday pressed the Obama administration to speed the update of a 15-year-old guidance they say is hampering agencies from catching hackers.

The guidance in question, known as Circular A-130, directs agencies on how to secure their information technology.

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First issued in the 1980s, this document has not been revised in more than 15 years despite drastic changes in technology and the cyber threats facing the government, said committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (R-Wis.) and ranking member Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (D-Del.).

A 2014 law directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to update the document by December of 2015, but Johnson and Carper say the government is behind schedule.

“We appreciate OMB’s work to update Circular A-130, but also emphasize the importance of completing this revision in a timely manner,”  the two senators wrote in their letter to the OMB head, Shaun DonovanShaun L. S. DonovanJacobin Editor-at-Large: Valerie Jarrett's support for Citigroup executive's mayoral campaign 'microcosm' of Democrats' relationship with Wall Street Citigroup executive to run for NYC mayor: report House Dems call on OMB to analyze Senate budget plan MORE. “We request that you provide us with a date by which you plan to issue revisions to Circular A-130.”

The lawmakers also asked for a staff briefing on the status of the updates within 30 days.

Revising the outdated guidance is part of the government’s broader efforts to get its cyber house in order.

In late 2014, Congress pushed through a series of small-bore bills that delineated cyber powers among the agencies. One of those measures, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act, directed the administration to update Circular A-130.

Then in December, Congress approved a wide ranging cyber bill that also mandated certain digital security standards while accelerating the rollout of the government’s anti-hacking shield that detects and repels known cyber threats.