Randy Resnick, director of the young Zero Trust Portfolio Management Office at the Pentagon, told government and industry leaders on Tuesday to anticipate a “directive type” memo that will give his office more authority to put pressure on the Defense Department to meet cybersecurity deadlines.

At the TechNet Cyber conference presented by the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association International in Baltimore on June 25, Resnick said his office received pushback on its aggressive goals for meeting zero-trust and saw a need to codify its role in the governmentwide race toward network security.

The memo will give Resnick’s office “bite” and an “ability to command and control zero trust in the Department of Defense,” he said.

At the inception of the portfolio office, which was stood up in 2022, Resnick said he was told his office didn’t have Title 10 authority to set zero-trust requirements or priorities. Military officials said they had to hear orders from their commands. In a nutshell, Title 10 is what gives DoD power to make decisions. It assigns the defense secretary “authority, direction and control” over all subordinate agencies and commands.

When the zero-trust office came on the scene, it was new, and Resnick is now working to ensure his team has the ability to act as subject-matter experts on zero trust.

“You will see language in it that makes it very clear what the portfolio office’s capabilities are and the power that we have over telling the department just how to do things in terms of policy deadlines,” he said. “But it also clearly outlines ... the military departments’ [and] the agencies’ roles and responsibilities for zero trust.”

Resnick did not give a date for the memo but said it was imminent.

In the next couple of months, Resnick is also aiming to clarify gray areas of shared responsibility of zero-trust, since both civilian and military agencies are tasked with implementing it.

Directive-type memos tend to have an expiration date, but they can be converted into instructions that establish policy.

Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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