By: Erica Borghard and Trey Herr

What is the kernel of the issue?

Congress created the Senate-confirmed position of the National Cyber Director (NCD) position in the 2021 National Defense Authorization to be the coordinator for cyber defense across the interagency and the principal cybersecurity advisor to the President. The Biden administration’s National Security Council (NSC) is reportedly conducting a 60-day review to determine how the office should function, but the Administration has not yet nominated anyone to lead it or contribute to that review.

Why is the issue important?

Recent revelations about the SolarWinds/Sunburst incident, which has led to the compromise of large portions of the Federal government and critical firms in the private sector, has only reinforced cybersecurity’s importance. Cybersecurity is far more than one crisis—despite the generational size and scope of Sunburst. The Biden administration must address the exigent mission of building a more resilient technology base, better defending critical infrastructure, and shoring up the security of Federal networks.

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should nominate an NCD to contribute to this 60-day review of the office. The new leader should not be left absent from crucial discussions about the scope and role of the NCD’s new team, especially how it will relate to important partners like the NSC and Department of Homeland Security. A clear, and single-hatted, choice to lead the NCD will help fulfill a major campaign commitment and match action to the administration’s words about the critical importance of cybersecurity. The NCD fills a clear need and the opportunity to position it for success should not be squandered at such a critical moment.

Related Experts: Erica Borghard and Trey Herr