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Trump Unexpectedly Delays Plan to Put Responsibility for Data Security in Cabinet Officials' Hands
02/01/2017 Donald Trump Lesley F
keywords: Cyber Security

Despite earlier indications that he would be signing an executive order placing responsibility for data security in the hands of each agency's Cabinet official, President Donald Trump and his administration caused confusion on Tuesday as the planned executive order was delayed.

White House representatives stated that the delay was only temporary due to a last-minute scheduling shake-up and that the president would be signing the planned order "in the near future."

Once signed, Trump's executive order will provide a road map for how his administration intends to approach the increasingly important issue of cybersecurity. Many cybersecurity experts say that the order follows in the footsteps of the previous two administration's policies, and senior experts at the Department of Homeland Security have helped draft the executive order's wording.

At a meeting with senior officials and outside experts on Tuesday, Trump described the goals of his plan: "I will hold my Cabinet secretaries and agency heads accountable, totally accountable, for the cybersecurity of their organizations, which we probably don't have as much--certainly not as much as we need." The president went on to state that "we must protect federal networks and data."

Notably, Trump's executive order will not address any issues related to the alleged Russian cyber attack that has been a hot topic following the 2016 presidential election. Rather, the order will focus on strengthening the federal government's own networks.

The Trump administration asserted that the order made several "long overdue" changes, but how Trump's order will change cybersecurity policy from the Obama administration is not yet clear. Obama had taken a similar approach with his Cabinet in regards to cybersecurity, and existing federal law already puts the onus of responsibility for cybersecurity strategy and its implementation on agency heads.

Part of Trump's executive order will call upon the Office of Management and Budget to carry out a study of data security and recommend necessary upgrades rather than taking an agency-by-agency approach. 

While the executive order will not ask Congress to introduce any legislation or increase funding for new computer systems, a White House official did state that Congress is expected to be "a key partner" in the order's implementation, "especially modernization of IT."

Despite general concerns that the Trump administration is attempting to evade typical bureaucratic channels, the White House official noted that the administration studied and considered recommendations from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Obama administration's cybersecurity commission and other related groups in drafting the executive order.

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