What does it cost to open up a new top-level executive branch office to coordinate the government’s sprawling and ever-growing cybersecurity efforts?

If you guessed $15 million, you’d be right in line with the thinking of the House Appropriations Committee, which released on June 23 the draft fiscal year 2022 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill that includes $15 million to launch the new Office of the National Cyber Director.

The $15 million proposed in the FSGG funding bill is consistent with the amount proposed by the Biden administration in its budget request issued late last month. The FSGG funding bill is set to be considered by a House Appropriations subcommittee today.

While specific details remain scant, it appears that initial staffing for the new office won’t be too shabby. The bill outlines that the $15 million will go towards salaries and necessary expenses for the Office of the National Cyber Director, of which “official reception and representation expenses” should not exceed $5,000.

The Office of the National Cyber Director was established by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. The new office aims to “help coordinate Federal cybersecurity policy and strategy,” according to a press release from the committee.

The man in charge of this brand new office is Chris Inglis – the nation’s first-ever national cyber director. The Senate confirmed Inglis on June 17, making him President Biden’s top advisor for cybersecurity. Inglis has served in private-sector cybersecurity since he retired from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2014. He also served as a commissioner on the National Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which recommended the creation of the position.

“While the position of national cyber director may be new, I am mindful that the team I would join … is one that is already on the field, impressively diverse and broadly engaged,” Inglis said during a June 10 Senate nomination hearing. “It is a team that includes public servants at Federal, state, and local levels, and private sector professionals whose collective efforts build, operate, and defend the digital infrastructure upon which the delivery of critical services increasingly depends.”

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During his nomination hearing, Inglis stressed the importance of having Federal cybersecurity capabilities and resources available to the private and public sectors to build the resilience of the nation’s systems. He also said he does not see the issue of cyberattacks or ransomware going away anytime soon.

“We should make this such that it’s not simply a cyber-on-cyber problem,” Inglis said at the hearing. “We should bring to bear all instruments of power in a hugely collaborative way across not just the private and public sector, but nations plural. Like-minded nations need to remove the sanctuary and bring to bear consequences on those who hold us in risk.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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