The U.S. Senate has unanimously confirmed Nathaniel Fick, a cybersecurity software and technology executive and venture capital partner, as the inaugural head of the State Department's five-month old Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP).
Prior to his confirmation, the 45-year-old Fick was chief executive cybersecurity of software company Endgame, then worked for Elastic NV after it acquired Endgame. He spent the better part of a decade as operating partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.
Fick is President Biden's Choice
President Biden nominated Fick last June to be the Bureau’s first ambassador-at-large to address national security challenges, economic opportunities and implications for the U.S. as tied to cyberspace, new and emerging digital technologies and digital policy.
Structurally, the CDP is segmented by three policy units: International Cyberspace Security; International Information and Communications Policy; and, Digital Freedom.
Prior to Fick’s confirmation, Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, led the Bureau as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. She also served as Senior Bureau Official.
Additional bureau officials include: Michele Markoff, who is serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Cyberspace Security; Stephen Anderson, who is serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Information and Communications Policy: and Blake Peterson, who is serving as Acting Digital Freedom Coordinator.
“Our country has lagged behind in shaping policies beyond our shores to defend us in this war without borders. I hope that ends today,” said Sen. Angus King (I-ME) in a statement on Fick's appointment.
Senator Questions Appointment
Despite his unanimous confirmation, Fick faced some headwinds in the process. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) quizzed him on the need for another cyber head, The Hill reported:
“What I’m concerned about is that we have overlapping responsibilities and authorities with regard to our cyber defense. We seem to keep adding more and more top cybersecurity positions to our government."
According to The Hill, Fick told Portman that his role would fill an important gap within the government, adding that other key institutions, including the White House and the Department of Defense, have “a strong presence in cyberspace” and that the same is needed within the State Department.