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Ari Schwartz, Managing Director of Cybersecurity Services at Venable, discusses some of the cybersecurity amendments from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission that are in the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act

The House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act both include several amendments from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, according to FCW. Senator Angus King (I) and Representatives Mike Gallagher (R) and Jim Langevin (D) have introduced dozens of amendments, a number of them appearing in the final bills each chamber passed.

One of the amendments included is the call for a cyber directorate in the White House and a National Cyber Director position. Ari Schwartz, Managing Director of Cybersecurity Services at Venable and Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Cybersecurity at the White House, explained that the recommendation from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission was to have an office of about 50 people, which would be much larger than the current office. Additionally, the commission recommended moving the office outside of the National Security Council and having it engage more directly with agencies.

This office, Schwartz explained, would probably “have a lot more interaction with Congress, a lot more accountability to Congress – I think that’s part of the allure to the members of Congress here.” He said it would also have greater ability to negotiate internationally on cyber issues.

The office would be similar to the cyber director role that existed under President Obama in terms of coordinating with cybersecurity organizations like CISA and Cyber Command, according to Schwartz. Currently, there is no cyber director position at that level. Schwartz suggested that the White House likely does not want the bill because “you have Senate confirmation tied to a national security position in the White House, which has never happened before.”

Another amendment, introduced by Sen. King in the Senate NDAA, would review the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security. The CISA Director would do a review of the size and scope of the organization and assess whether they can effectively fulfill the mission. Schwartz said that he believes that “most people would agree that right now they’re not really staffed to do that.” That report would then go to Congress and the General Services Administration, which would also report on it.

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