The Department of Homeland Security wants to establish an internal organization dedicated to coordinating cybersecurity efforts across DHS and identifying joint priorities.

In its fiscal 2021 budget request, DHS asked Congress to allocate it $2.6 million to create the Joint Cyber Coordination Group. The group would have six full-time employees and be housed under the Office of Policy, Strategy and Plans (PLCY). DHS’ congressional justification say that it needs the group because expanding technological and cyberthreats make it difficult for any one component to manage “all aspects of associated risk.”

According to budget documents, the JCCG would provide a “central location" where permanent staff and representatives from across DHS components can “synchronize” cyber activities. Currently, the department “lacks sufficient mechanisms to develop, plan for, and execute strategic operational priorities across Components and coordinate long-term protective and deterrent efforts to counter cyber risks," officials wrote.

“The absence of such a body impairs policy and operational decision-making by the secretary and the ability to ensure full visibility into all components’ authorities, capabilities, and resources to inform strategic actions by the department to address prioritized national cyber and technology risks."

Through JCCG, components can coordinate on operational planning, risk assessments, investigations, stakeholder engagement, technical deployments and international engagements.

“It will also enable DHS to evaluate and execute authorities and capabilities across the Department to address pressing cyber risks to critical infrastructure and risks posed by foreign adversaries’ efforts to acquire or dominate certain emerging technologies," budget officials wrote. "The JCCG will ensure coordinated, integrated input into other interagency efforts to aggressively counter these risks and deter adversary actors.”

According to budget documents, PLCY will direct the “strategic direction and priorities" and work with the Office of Operations Coordination and other components to further develop staffing and operational plans.

DHS is the lead civilian agency for cybersecurity. Its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is responsible for protecting both critical infrastructure and federal civilian networks from cyberattacks — in addition to assisting states with election security efforts. It also shares information with private industry and the intelligence community.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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