House tinkers with Homeland Security bill

House tinkers with Homeland Security bill

Several House committees have left their marks on the president's draft proposal for a Homeland Security Department as the bill makes its way to a select committee that will finalize a version for House action. HR 5005 is undergoing markup by committees with subject matter jurisdiction. The select committee wants to receive all the recommendations today.

On Wednesday the Science Committee voted to create a post of undersecretary of science and technology to coordinate R&D. It also adopted an amendment to establish a homeland security institute'an independent think tank to direct technical and policy analysis. In addition, the committee moved to block the transfer to Homeland Security of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Computer Security Division.

'We think it is better left at NIST, where it can interact easily with the other research divisions of NIST and with private industry,' chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) said.

Yesterday the Energy and Commerce Committee passed its version of the bill with provisions for a cybersecurity program and an audit team to evaluate existing security practices.

Today the Government Reform Committee approved changes to the bill that would amend the Freedom of Information Act to protect from disclosure the security information that industry shares with government. Concern for proprietary data has been a major roadblock to more effective sharing of facts about vulnerabilities and threats.

The reform committee's version also included a proposal for setting minimum federal computer security guidelines. The guidelines would be technology-neutral and performance-based.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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