The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today repeated its call for the White House to quickly appoint a permanent National Cyber Director, and also urged the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) to move with dispatch on helping Federal agencies prepare for implementing the National Cybersecurity Strategy released by ONCD in March.

In a new report issued today, GAO Director of IT and Cybersecurity Marisol Cruz Cain repeated her call from earlier this month for the White House to name a permanent NCD.

Kemba Walden has been serving as acting NCD since NCD Chris Inglis resigned from that position earlier this year.

GAO’s report issued today – termed a “snapshot” on the status of the NCS – said that the “continued vacancy in the role of National Cyber Director” poses a “challenge” to implementation of the plan.

“This vacancy leaves unfilled a key leadership role needed to coordinate federal efforts to address cybersecurity threats and challenges,” GAO said in its new report. “Further, sustained leadership in this position is essential to ensuring strategy execution and accountability.”

ONCD has yet to release its implementation plan for the strategy, but earlier this year ONCD officials were targeting June as a possible release date.

Discussing the NCS itself, GAO said today that the “strategy’s goals and strategic objectives provide a good foundation, but the Administration needs to establish specific objectives and performance measures, resource requirements, and roles and responsibilities.”

GAO recalled in the new report that it April the watchdog agency “reported that the goals and strategic objectives” in the NCS  “provide a good foundation for establishing a more comprehensive strategy.”

“Specifically, the strategy fully addressed three of six desirable characteristics of a national strategy,” GAO said, continuing, “however, it only partially addressed the remaining three. These include

  • goals, subordinate objectives, activities, and performance measures;
  • resources, investments, and risk management; and
  • organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination.”

“It is critical that these details be issued expeditiously so agencies can begin planning and allocating resources to properly execute the strategy,” GAO said today.

“Until the federal government issues the implementation plan and ensures its strategy documents fully address the desirable characteristics of a national strategy, the nation will lack a clear roadmap for overcoming its cyber challenges,” GAO said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.