State Dept. to eliminate cyber office: report

Keren Carrion

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to close an office that coordinates with other countries on cybersecurity and fold it into a bureau focused on economic issues, Bloomberg is reporting.

The move would shutter the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, which opened under the Obama administration in 2011. 

The decision would be part of the department’s effort to reorganize operations and reduce bureaucratic waste, set forth by a March executive order signed by President Trump. 

{mosads}In response to the report, a State Department official told The Hill that the “there are no predetermined outcomes” in the redesign review, which Tillerson is aiming to complete by fall. The official would not say whether closing the cyber office is under consideration.

“During this process, we are committed to ensuring the department is addressing such issues in the most effective and efficient way possible,” the official said. “We are not going to get ahead of any potential outcomes.” 

The report follows news that the office’s current leader, Christopher Painter, who has been the department’s cybersecurity coordinator for over six years, will leave his post at the end of July. 

According to Bloomberg, the office is expected to be merged into State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, an organization in charge of economic diplomatic efforts that engages with nations on issues including trade, finance, telecommunications and internet policy. 

The department’s cybersecurity coordinator would no longer report directly to the secretary of State under the plan.

The State official said that the department “continues to promote an open, interoperable, secure and reliable cyberspace” and is committed to working with foreign partners on cybersecurity. 

But critics say that such a move would go against the progress the U.S. has made on international cybersecurity engagement in recent years.

“It goes against everything we’ve been doing for the last decade,” James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Hill.


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