Two prominent U.S. senators, known for sponsoring multiple cybersecurity measures, are urging President Biden to move more quickly to nominate a replacement for former federal cyber czar Chris Inglis, who resigned from his post three months ago.
Leadership Void Concerns Legislators
Inglis’s exit follows a two-year stint as the nation’s first cyber director reporting directly to the White House. And the expected departure of Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command, is adding to concerns among Congressional members that foreign adversaries will attempt to take advantage of the lack of federal leadership.
Kemba Walden, deputy national cyber director, is serving as Inglis’s interim replacement. Nakasone is expected to retire in August or September, although no date for his departure has been formally released. He has served for five years as head of the NSA and Cyber Command.
In the letter to Biden, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) expressed their concern regarding the empty director’s chair, saying they were “extremely concerned” the continued delay to fill the position could “hinder the implementation” of the national cyber strategy, the Hill reported.
Gallagher went so far as to scold the White House for “moving unacceptably slow to nominate a new National Cyber Director. The position is Senate confirmed but could still take months to fill.
Cyber Boss Replacement Drags
In explaining that the national cyber director is the “only position tasked with “delivering and moving forward” a national cyber strategy, “each day the position goes unfilled is a day wasted” to implement the President’s cyber plan, Gallagher said.
The Hill reported that Sen. King told the Washington Post that both seats being empty at the same time could become a “big gap.” King further told the Hill that Nakasone’s departure “will be a significant loss” and hopes the administration “can find a good replacement for the vitally important national security role.”
Last March, Biden detailed the nation's cyber strategy, which sketches a blueprint for how the federal government plans to deal with the immense volume of cyber threats hitting targets in the public and private sectors and critical infrastructure facilities.