We may have avoided going off the fiscal cliff for a couple of months, but sequestration still looms large with $1.2 trillion across-the-board budget cuts to be enacted if new budget measures are not passed by Congress by March 1. Funding for government IT programs will feel the impact, but the Federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel believes that with cybersecurity at the core of everything the government does, capabilities can’t be cut without proper due diligence. In fact, federal IT workers will still focus on a four-pronged strategy to maximize the ROI of federal IT investments already made by government agencies
In a recent interview with BankInfoSecurity, VanRoekel stressed that cybersecurity remains a top priority in making sure agency missions are met, yet acknowledges that he’s “encouraging CIOs and leadership inside agencies to really look across the spectrum of their spend and understand ‘[h]ow am I meeting the mission of my agency or my department and what impact would a budget cut or an across-the-board cut would have on that?’ and take a look at where [they] would end up on that spectrum.”
With the re-election of President Obama, there will be a great deal of continuity in cybersecurity personnel and policy, which is good news for those attempting to execute cybersecurity initiatives. For example, both Obama and VanRokel are pushing for more collaboration across c-level executives within agencies and through public-private partnerships.
“There is this inflection point we all go through where technology is seen as this very discretionary thing to this very strategic thing. We are in the midst of that inflection point in government and it hasn’t been fully realized. I think that coupled with the cost pressure, the cybersecurity pressure and probably most importantly, the expectations of citizens are going to drive a different behavior,” VanRokel said. “What I noticed the most about coming into government is that we spend a lot of time focusing on a single role, saying a CIO owns this function, a procurement professional owns this function, a CFO, human resources, etc. One of the things I’m working very hard to instill is a cross C-level conversation on these things,” said VanRokel according to a recent article in Federal News Radio.
This cross collaboration and understanding of IT spending, coupled with the pressures of addressing cybersecurity should ensure that cybersecurity remains a top priority for the Administration and senior agency officials. It will be interesting to see how the president addresses cybersecurity in his upcoming State of the Union address, especially given its low profile in the inaugural address.
Do you think that cybersecurity should receive more presidential-level attention? What are you hoping to hear about cybersecurity in the State of the Union?