Critical Infrastructure

Intel chief addresses ‘enduring challenge’ of election security

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has taken another step to ramp up federal election security in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats created a new lead election security position within the intelligence community, the Election Threats Executive, which will be filled by tenured intelligence official Shelby Pierson, according to a news release from ODNI.

According to the announcement, the executive will be Coats’ top adviser on threats to U.S. elections. Pierson will also “will coordinate and integrate all election security activities, initiatives and programs across the IC and synchronize intelligence efforts in support of the broader U.S. government.”

Pierson, who has served for over two decades in the intelligence community, previously served as ODNI’s crisis manager for election security during last year’s midterms. In 2018, the Russian government continued its misinformation campaign, but the ODNI, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice said in a joint release before Election Day that there was no evidence of compromised election infrastructure.

“Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC,” said Coats. “In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue. There is no one more qualified to serve as the very first Election Threats Executive than Shelby Pierson, whose knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission.”

According to the release, Coats also directed all intelligence agencies and government departments charged with election security to identify a senior-executive leader for election security. The leaders will work with Pierson on intelligence community election security work. Pierson will also be the chair of the newly created Election Executive and Leadership Board, the entity that will facilitate election security coordination in the intelligence community.

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