DHS Secretary Urges Senate to Move on DHS Cyber Directorate

This week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen publicly urged Congress “to pass legislation authorizing and rebranding the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) by the end of the year,” according to Jared Serbu at Federal News Radio.

The NPPD’s stated mission is to advance risk-reduction within DHS. The directorate’s website states that its “vision is a safe, secure, and resilient infrastructure where the American way of life can thrive” and that it “leads the national effort to protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyber infrastructure.”

Under Nielsen’s proposed change, NPPD would be renamed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a bid to both clarify the body’s purpose and intended to establish that DHS is the go-to on cyber matters.

“We have to get it done,” Nielsen said at an event in Washington, D.C. yesterday. “Everyone agrees that DHS is on point for the civilian dot-gov domains, we’re on point for helping critical infrastructure and now we’re on point for helping state and locals protect their elections. We have the mission space, but we are not able to organize to meet that operational space, and we need to be an operational component.”

Nielsen said the name change “helps us work with international partners, and it really helps the private sector understand where to go and how they can interact with us.”

Legislation rebranding the NPPD has already passed the House of Representatives. Nielsen hopes her remarks will inject life into the bill in the Senate, where it has stalled.

According to Serbu, “DHS officials have previously said that they believe they already have all of the statutory authorities they need to defend public and private networks, notwithstanding the need to change NPPD’s name and enshrine its missions in federal law.”

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