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OMB and DHS Clarify Cybersecurity Responsibility and Activities within the Executive Branch

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WASHINGTON, July 12, 2010- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Cybersercurity Coordinator recently released a joint memo in which their specific responsibilities were outlined following the regulations in the Federal Information and Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA).

The memo stated that the OMB is now responsible for submitting the annual FISMA report to Congress. DHS will also assist OMB by developing analyses for the FISMA annual report. The report will help develop cybersecurity policies and secure funding for the OMB and federal cybersecurity activities.

The Cybersecurity Coordinator will ensure that the federal agencies comply with FISMA, and they will also be the main White House official to coordinate interagency cooperation in cybersecurity efforts.

The memo also outlined DHS’s current duties, which include protecting federal infrastructure and securing federal civilian government systems and private sector systems. DHS also helps in maintaining the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team which is “charged with providing response support and defense against cyber-attacks for the Federal Civil Executive Branch and information sharing and collaboration with state and local government, industry and international partners.”

DHS will now be primarily responsible within the executive branch for managing federal information systems security as found in FISMA. It will be subject to OMB oversight, and is subject to the same limitations and requirements that apply to OMB.

Other  DHS activities outlined in the memo include overseeing implementation and reporting on cybersecurity policies, assisting efforts to provide adequate, effective, and cost-efficient cybersecurity to the federal agencies, and making sure the agencies are complying with FISMA regulations. In addition, they will oversee the agencies’ cybersecurity operations and incident response, and provide assistance when necessary.

The memo was written by Peter R. Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget and Howard A. Schmidt, special assistant to the president and Cybersecurity Coordinator.

Lindsey is working with through an internship with the National Journalism Center. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in professional writing. She has worked in Virginia Tech's public affairs department, and she was an assistant editor of one of the college's news-magazines. Lindsey is from Chatham, Va.

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