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FCW : April 30, 2015
President Barack Obama issued an executive order April 1 declaring for- eign cyberthreats to U.S. economic and national security a “national emergen- cy.” The order authorizes the Treasury secretary to levy sanctions on individu- als or groups whose “significant, mali- cious cyber-enabled activities” threaten American national security, foreign policy, economic prosperity or finan- cial stability. Four categories of cyber behavior could trigger sanctions, according to a White House summary: • “Harming or significantly compro- mising” critical infrastructure services. • “Significantly disrupting” a computer network via, for example, a distributed denial-of-service attack. • “Causing a significant misappropria- tion of funds or economic resources” by, for example, stealing credit card information or trade secrets. • Receiving or using such trade secrets for commercial gain. The executive order is “both tar- geted in a sense [that] it has to be very significant and meet those four harms, but it’s also very broad in that those harms cut across a wide swath of activity,” White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel said. The order is a more flexible tool than indicting alleged cyber criminals, as the Justice Department has done twice to Chinese nationals, in that the president can adjust sanctions already in place. The executive order “is significant because you need to get penalties in here to make this work,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. However, Lewis said he was con- cerned that the administration might have set too high a threshold to trigger sanctions. That threshold was the result of con- siderable deliberation on the part of the White House. Advisers debated how high that threshold should be, dwelling on what a “significant” compromise of computer security would entail, accord- ing to an administration official. They ended up opting for a high bar. “The idea is to not use this tool willy- nilly,” the official said. — Sean Lyngaas Obama declares foreign cyberthreats a ‘national emergency’ of Americans say they do not recall hearing about Heartbleed 86% Metrics, management guidelines and reporting requirements are imperatives for government agen- cies that ultimately answer to the American people. And, as any effective leader will tell you, things that don’t get measured usually don’t get done. Still, it was hard not to sigh when Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Dono- van’s memo came out on April 6. Titled “Focusing on Imple- mentation to Drive Improvements,” it is a rousing call to document priori- ties and work toward benchmarks during the final 20 months of this administration. Agency leaders are encouraged to “identify their priority goals, goal leaders, strategies, indicators and milestones to achieve these impor- tant priorities,” Donovan wrote. The memo came just days after the Government Accountability Office published a report detailing the 36 IT manage- ment reporting require- ments that agency CIOs must address for OMB. The CIOs told GAO that just four of those requirements were of great help in managing agency IT; 24 were of little or no help at all. (Donovan’s memo is aimed mainly at agency heads, but it all but guarantees CIO involve- ment and additional data calls.) This is not to imply that Dono- van’s diktat is pointless. The goals that agencies are being pressed to measure are real and outcome- oriented. His requirement that agencies designate a senior career executive to push each goal forward is praiseworthy. And implementation should be the emphasis — not just in the final year of an administration but always in government. Yet the memo reads like a forc- ing mechanism to keep agencies focused in the administration’s wan- ing days. And GAO found that agen- cies were already spending at least $150 million annually on reporting requirements of questionable value, and that’s just for IT. So it’s worth asking: Where does accountable government stop and bureaucratic box-checking begin? — Troy K. Schneider firstname.lastname@example.org @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Good management or measurement make-work? April 30, 2015 FCW.COM 9 FBI.GOV 0430fcw_003-011.indd 9 4/8/15 2:23 PM
April 15, 2015
May 15, 2015