In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower convened Project Solarium, a group of senior national security officials who met in the top floor of the White House to come to a consensus on how to deal with Soviet expansion.
Over six decades later, members of Congress, federal agencies and the private sector will meet in a similar fashion in a Cybersecurity Solarium Commission to address the cybersecurity threat to the United States, both on a governmental and private sector level.
The commission includes four members of Congress from all parties: republicans Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin; democratic Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island; and independent Sen. Angus King of Maine.
On the agency side, Department of Defense acting-Deputy Secretary David Norquist, Department of Homeland Security acting-Deputy Secretary David Pekoske, Deputy Director for National Intelligence Susan Gordon and FBI Director Chris Wray will also serve on the commission.
On top of the eight government members, the commission will also have six members from the private sector, many of whom have former government or academic experience.
According to King, a co-chair of the commission along with Gallagher, the members will break into three groups to address facets of the cybersecurity issue: persistent engagement, deterrence and international norms and standards.
Engagement and deterrence are “similar but not identical,” according to King, who spoke on a call with reporters May 13, as the first ensures that cyber adversaries know the United States is watching and investigating them, while deterrence includes capabilities and repercussions that keep adversaries from engaging in the first place.
The groups have yet to be determined, according to King, but commission members have been asked to submit their interest in each of the three areas.
The commission was also granted a budget to hire staff in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which first granted authority for the new Solarium.
“We’re going to get the best talent that we can,” said King.
Despite the commission’s broad range of issues it plans to address in the coming months, King said he hopes to be “as specific as possible” in recommendations so that cyber adversaries “understand what the rules of the game are.”
In the coming weeks, the commission plans to issue more details on staff positions and how people can contribute to discussions, and a full report on each of the three groups’ findings is expected by the end of the year.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.