White House draft bill would put DHS in charge of civilian computer networks

The White House is circulating a piece of draft legislation that would give the Department of Homeland Security oversight over cybersecurity at civilian agencies, according to a report from FedNewsRadio.

The proposed legislation combines the comprehensive cybersecurity bill introduced last year by the Senate Homeland Security Committee with the administration's memo from July 2010 to expand DHS's responsibilities over non-military networks, according to the report.

Like the Homeland Security bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators begin informal talks on new coronavirus stimulus GOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus MORE (R-Maine) and Thomas Carper (D-Del.), the bill would create a White House cybersecurity office that reports to the Secretary of DHS on day-to-day matters.


But the legislation also goes beyond the Homeland Security bill by giving DHS authority over .gov domains that is similar to the authority enjoyed by U.S. CyberCommand, the military's cybersecurity unit, over the .gov domain.

The bill would put DHS in charge of enforcing the Federal Information Security Management Act instead of the Office of Management and Budget, which currently oversees the law. The bill would give DHS the authority to hire four senior level cyber executives and create a scholarship program for students interested in pursuing cybersecurity.

The 100-page document is currently under review; DHS sent it to agencies last Friday and is expecting comments Monday. White House officials indicated at a hearing this week that the administration is currently finalizing a series of draft cybersecurity proposals.

A committee spokesperson told FedNewsRadio that the Senate Commerce and Homeland Security Committees settled their turf battle over cybersecurity last month after being mired in a standoff since last August. Lieberman said if the White House bill aligns with his committee's effort, he expects to see a bill passed by the Senate before the end of the year.

But Republicans in both the Senate and the House have expressed resistance to putting more on the plate of DHS, with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDemocratic super PAC targets McSally over coronavirus response GOP senator suspending campaign fundraising, donating paycheck amid coronavirus pandemic Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much MORE (R-Ariz.) repeatedly arguing the agency is unable to fulfill its existing mission.

The only Republicans thus far who appear to be backing the effort are Collins and her centrist colleague Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). House Republicans have shown support for putting the military or the National Security Agency in charge of protecting all government networks.

The bill also reportedly contains what the report referred to as a "Google provision" that says the government can't force a business to locate a data center in a particular state as a condition of a procurement.