The National Governors Association (NGA) urged Congress to take action on key pieces of legislation that will help harden state and local government’s (SLGs) cybersecurity defenses.

In a statement released today, NGA praised Congress’ work on helping SLGs “enhance their cybersecurity efforts,” but urged Congress to take further action. NGA specifically identified three pieces of legislation: the State Cyber Resiliency Act (S.1065/H.R. 2130), the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act of 2019 (S.1846), and the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act (H.R 5823).

The bicameral State Cyber Resiliency Act (S. 1065) was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and in the House by Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas. The legislation would authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to operate a grant program for states looking to implement better cybersecurity and recovery measures. To distribute the funding, a review committee would be created. The legislation says the review committee would include people recommended by the NGA, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, the National Guard Bureau, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities.

Sponsored by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act, is intended to strengthen cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments. The Act would “would encourage national cybersecurity watchdogs to share information regarding cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, breaches and resources to prevent and recover from cyber-attacks with states and localities who are increasingly targeted by bad actors,” according to the bill’s cosponsors.

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which cleared the House Homeland Security Committee on Feb. 12, would authorize a new grant program based out of DHS to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities on state and local government networks.

Cosponsored by Reps. Cedric Richmond, D-La., John Katko, R-N.Y., Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., and Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the legislation:

  • “Establishes a $400 million DHS grant program that incentivizes states to increase their own cybersecurity funding;
  • Requires DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) develop a strategy to improve the cybersecurity of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments;
  • Requires state, local, tribal, and territorial governments develop comprehensive Cybersecurity Plans to guide use of grant dollars; and
  • Establishes a State and Local Cybersecurity Resiliency Committee so state, local, tribal, and territorial governments can advise CISA on their cybersecurity needs.”
Read More About
More Topics
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.