Bill creating DHS cyber agency heads to the president’s desk

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Nov. 13 that would rename the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate and focus the new agency on cyber and physical infrastructure security.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, which passed the Senate Oct. 3, had already received unanimous House approval in December 2017, but required a new vote after members of the Senate made alterations to the bill before its passage. The bill now heads to the White House for signature.

Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Richard Driggers speaks about changing the name of the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the CyberCon event hosted by Fifth Domain at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City on Nov. 1, 2018. (Jillian Angeline/Staff)
How a name change will focus this DHS office’s mission

After over 10 years, a name change for the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate would give the organization a chance to better focus on cyber and infrastructure security.

“Today’s vote is a significant step to stand up a federal government cybersecurity agency,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a news release.

Key lawmakers also praised the vote, and Nielsen lauded Capitol Hill’s efforts in creating CISA.

“The cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving, and we need to ensure we’re properly positioned to defend America’s infrastructure from threats digital and physical. It was time to reorganize and operationalize NPPD into the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency," she said. "I thank Chairman Michael McCaul and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson for recognizing our critical role and both starting and completing this transformation in the House of Representatives. I also thank Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill for their tireless support of the CISA Act in the Senate.”

NPPD Undersecretary Christopher Krebs, who would lead the newly reorganized CISA, applauded the legislation’s passage for “elevating the cybersecurity mission” at Homeland Security.

However, experts have questioned department leaders over whether the new agency is simply a name change. The department will receive no additional funding and no additional authority.

"It’s going to help me recruit, it’s going to help me cement my position across the federal family, but also it’s going to make things easier for me when I go out in the field,” Krebs said during a July 20 event.

Fifth Domain Associate Editor Justin Lynch contributed to this report.

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