Homeland Security’s new risk management center announces first leader

The Department of Homeland Security named Robert Kolasky as head of the new National Risk Management Center, part of a larger emphasis from the Trump administration on working with the private sector to halt cyberattacks.

Kolasky will be tasked with building up the new center and recruiting private companies to participate. Previously, Kolasky served as the deputy assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Kennedy School.

Although a spokesman said Kolasky was internally appointed Aug 2., DHS officially updated its website Aug. 31.

During an Aug. 21 Senate hearing, Kolasky said that the new center will “provide the private sector with an entrance point for project teams to access programs from all departments and agencies and coordinate defenses against cyber threats that can affect all sectors.” He also said that the 2018 midterm elections are a potential target for Russian cyber operations.

The risk management center was announced in a July summit by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. It is housed in the National Protection and Programs Directorate, and agency leaders envision it as a hub for the government to collaborate with private companies.

“Where sectors once had to make strategic decisions based on partial understanding of the risk environment, the Center facilitates a complete, systemic risk picture that fills in the gaps and provides a sound basis for collaborative risk strategies that target and prioritize collective risks,” the Department of Homeland Security said on its website.

When the agency was announced in July, Jeanette Manfra, the assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at Homeland Security, said that the agency would not immediately receive new funding. During that conference, government officials were eager to entice the private sector into joining the new risk center.

“We have to establish a value proposition for an organization to share into the system,” said Chris Krebs, head of the national protection and programs directorate.

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