Obama Hasn't Reviewed Executive Order Draft

Napolitano: Administration Seeks Private Sector Counsel on Order
Obama Hasn't Reviewed Executive Order Draft

President Obama has not yet reviwed a draft of a proposed executive order that would create a process to develop, in collaboration with industry, IT security best practices that the mostly private owners of the nation's critical infrastructure could voluntarily adopt.

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"There is a draft, it has been circulated, but the president has not had the opportunity to review it or make a final decision about it," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Oct. 25.

The administration raised the possibility of issuing an executive order [see White House: No Rush on Executive Order] after the Senate failed to vote in August on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes provisions to establish IT security best practices that could be voluntarily implemented by industry [see Senate Votes to Block Cybersecurity Act Action].

"Given the severity and urgency of the situation, we can't simply wait if Congress cannot act," Napolitano said at a symposium on building a cybersecurity work force through diversity, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

After the Senate's failure to act, several sponsors of the Cybersecurity Act had called on Obama to issue the executive order [see Lieberman's Last Harrah on Cybersecurity]. But one of them, Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and other Republicans who oppose the measure, cautioned Obama against issuing it [see GOP Senators Warn Obama on Executive Order].

Napolitano noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would again bring up the cybersecurity legislation after Congress returns Nov. 13 [see Senate to Reconsider IT Security Bill], but suggested supporters of the bill might not have enough votes to break the filibuster that's preventing the vote.

"They [senators] got a long list of things that need to be dealt with," Napolitano said, referring to other issues that are perceived to be more pressing, including rescinding severe, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration. "The ideal way to go is through Congress, but if Congress cannot act, then the executive branch is going to have to [issue the order]."

Meanwhile, Napolitano said the administration is reaching out to the private sector and other stakeholders to fine tune the executive order should the administration ultimately decide to issue it.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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