President overhauls his security teams

Howard Schmidt, former acting chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board

Courtesy of Defense Information Systems Agency

As part of the executive branch restructuring to create the new Homeland Security Department, President Bush has eliminated his Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

Bush issued an executive order Feb. 28 revising an October 2001 order that created the board but did not refer to it by name.

White House spokeswoman Tiffany Olsen downplayed the significance of the move, saying the board's functions will continue under different organizations.

'The board is disbanded, but the work the board was doing is continuing in the White House under the Homeland Security Council,' Olsen said.

The council is a scaled-down version of the Homeland Security Office, which was led by Tom Ridge before he became Homeland Security secretary. The council will coordinate cybersecurity policy, Olsen said, whereas 'the department will be the focal point of operations.'

The mission of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was to 'recommend policies and coordinate programs for protecting information systems for critical infrastructure.'

President Bush named Richard Clarke, an 11-year White House veteran, to chair the board. He oversaw development of the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace before announcing his retirement in January.

The strategy, released last month, has drawn praise for emphasizing public- and private-sector cooperation and best practices. But it is short on mandates for enforcement.

Vice-chairman Howard Schmidt became acting chairman of the board after Clarke's retirement and now will move to the Homeland Security Council.

'Individual roles and assignments within the council haven't been made at this point,' Olsen said.
The restructuring was part of an omnibus executive order issued the day before 22 agencies officially became part of the new Homeland Security Department.

The president's order amended more than 80 executive orders and acts dating back more than 75 years.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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