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White House Creates IT Council

The Cyber Edge
May 2, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
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The White House has created a council charged with tackling federal information technology services. President Donald Trump signed the executive order that stands up the American Technology Council, or ATC, to "transform and modernize" federal IT. 

The order addresses big-picture IT policy to “promote the secure, efficient and economical use of information technology to achieve its missions,” it reads. “Americans deserve better digital services from their government. To effectuate this policy, the federal government must transform and modernize its information technology and how it uses and delivers digital services.”

The order stipulates that the president himself will chair the council. Other members include the vice president and cabinet-level officials including the defense secretary, commerce secretary, homeland security secretary and director of national intelligence. A total of 18 leaders comprise the ATC, including the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the nation’s top chief technology officer, administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and commissioner of the Technology Transformation Service. Other areas with representation on the council include intragovernmental and technology initiatives, national security affairs and strategic initiatives. The president must still designate a council director. 

The order, dated April 28, does not detail how the ATC should go about conducting its mission. Among its principal functions are to “coordinate the vision, strategy and direction for the federal government's use of information technology and the delivery of services through information technology,” it reads. The order allows for the ATC to function through ad hoc committees, task forces or interagency groups.

In March, the White House floated its first federal budget blueprint that included funding for the nation’s cybersecurity efforts, primarily by boosting budgets of the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security. The funding aligns with strategies set by the White House, to including holding the heads of government agencies and departments responsible for securing agency data and networks and adopting best practices from the private sector. Those scattered responsibilities, however, will have to be balanced with a governmentwide federal IT security approach, White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert has said. “Shared services will be a fundamental requirement,” he said. “We can no longer dream away the notion that we will have cybersecurity expertise, in terms of capital investment and human investment, resident in [all] federal agencies.”

For many years now, government agencies have struggled to effectively derail nation-states and cyber intruders that repeatedly highlight U.S. vulnerabilities, such as the string of notorious incidents from Russia’s reported interference in the U.S. presidential electoral process to the notable OPM breach attributed to China that exfiltrated the sensitive records of 22 million federal employees.




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