Today the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittees on Technology and Innovation and Research and Science Education held a joint hearing to review federal cybersecurity research and development (R&D) efforts with witnesses from the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program (NITRD), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Specifically, the hearing examined federal agency efforts to improve our national cybersecurity and prepare the future cybersecurity talent needed for national security.
"More and more of our personal information is making its way online, and our nation's entire infrastructure--from traffic systems and the electricity grid to manufacturing--is becoming increasingly dependent on secure and reliable access to the internet," said Technology and Innovation Ranking Member David Wu (D-OR). "I can think of few topics more important for this Committee to address than cybersecurity."
Democratic Members and witnesses also discussed the Administration's cybersecurity legislative proposal. "Previously, federal efforts have been output oriented--focusing on metrics such as the number of programs, funds spent, and the number of interagency working groups--rather than outcome driven," said Ranking Member David Wu. "I am pleased that the current administration is focusing its efforts on achieving outcomes, such as reducing breaches of federal systems and cases of identity theft, as well as ensuring the security of smart grid and health IT systems."
Research and Science Education Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)said, "I want to highlight just one particular area of research that is often left out of discussions on cybersecurity research needs and that is the human element of cybersecurity. People are perhaps the most important part of our IT infrastructure, and according to experts, they are also the "weakest link' in many systems. Better cybersecurity education for both the general public and for current and future IT professionals is vital."
In the 111th Congress, the Committee held a series of hearings on cybersecurity leading to the development of H.R. 4061, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2010. This bill required federal agencies to create a strategic plan guiding the overall direction of federal cybersecurity R&D; reauthorized cybersecurity research at the NSF; established scholarships for students in the cybersecurity field in exchange for federal government service; required NIST to produce a cybersecurity awareness and education program; and required the creation of university-industry task force to increase collaboration between the public and private sectors on cybersecurity R&D. H.R. 4061 passed the House with broad bipartisan support (422-5), but never made it through the Senate in the last Congress. Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX)plan on introducing an updated version of the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2010 this Congress. "We are anticipating that our R&D bill will be part of a bigger, bipartisan cybersecurity bill in both the House and Senate," said Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski. "I am glad that the President is taking an active role in this discussion, and I hope that the White House proposal sent up to Congress two weeks ago will help to move efforts along in both Houses."