The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) announced today that it endorsed S. 1846, the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act of 2019.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on June 18, is intended to strengthen cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments. The bill 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 sponsors.

“State and local governments are responsible for safeguarding everything from election systems to an increasing amount of sensitive personal data – from social security numbers and credit card information to detailed medical records,” Peters said when the legislation was introduced. “Despite being targeted by hackers and bad actors, states and local communities don’t always have access to the resources and expertise needed to protect your information from a breach. This bill will help strengthen coordination between Federal cybersecurity professionals and state and local governments to address emerging threats and help keep Americans’ information safe.”

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NASCIO noted specific provisions in the legislation when explaining its decision to endorse the bill. The group praised the bill because it “provides for additional Federal grant opportunities to state, local and tribal governments to safeguard against cyber threats,” “strives to make serious efforts to strengthen the communication between [DHS] and state and local officials to combat a myriad of cybersecurity threats,” “codifies the coordination between DHS and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC),” and “includes a proposed pilot deployment of enhanced capabilities to state and local governments to identify and filter malicious network traffic.”

NASCIO President and Delaware CIO James Collins said, “states are the primary agents for delivering a host of critically important Federally funded services on behalf of the Federal government. For our CIOs and CISOs, this legislation would provide them with additional tools, resources and expertise to counteract a continuous barrage of cyber threats. We urge the Senate to pass S. 1846.”

State leaders concurred with Collins in a statement released after the legislation was introduced in June.

“Every day our state and local government networks experience millions of intrusion attempts by those looking to do harm,” said Chris DeRusha, chief security officer for the State of Michigan. “This bill will help the state of Michigan access resources, tools and expertise developed by Federal government and national cybersecurity experts, which will enhance the security of the information Michiganders have entrusted us to keep safe.”

Mark Hackel, Macomb County (Mich.) executive, agreed with his colleague, “This cooperation with Federal, state, and local agencies will advance our abilities to fight off cyber threats. In Macomb County, we have been working diligently with our academic partners to train the next generation cybersecurity professional to stay ahead of vulnerabilities and cyber breaches. This next step in collaboration will ensure that knowledge-sharing occurs at all levels of government and is key to our defense against attacks.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.