White House: Cyber executive order is close, will be 'intertwined' with federal IT modernization

(Flickr / Hannah Rosen)


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The Trump administration is “close” to unveiling its cybersecurity executive order and is carefully aligning its policy in that area with plans for modernizing federal IT networks, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Robert Joyce said Monday in his first public comments since taking office.

“We must make sure that innovation and cybersecurity are intertwined,” Joyce told an international cybersecurity conference at Georgetown University. He said the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was working with White House tech policy aides Chris Liddell and  Reed Cordish on “a major effort” in Kushner’s newly minted Office of American Innovation to develop “approaches for the president’s consideration to modernize federal IT systems, retire outdated systems and move to shared services.”

White House staff would ensure that the two initiatives “are closely aligned,” Joyce said. “I get to participate in, my staff gets to participate in those meetings,” he said of the innovation office’s work on federal IT.

Asked whether modernization policy would be in the cybersecurity EO, as it was in a draft version posted online earlier this year, or whether, as reported at the weekend, it would be broken out into a separate EO being drafted by Kushner’s office, Joyce replied: “A little bit of both.”

The comments underline the policy complexities that the new administration, like its predecessors, has struggled with as it seeks to protect dozens of separate networks and hundreds of different services — email, cloud storage, voice and data — in the civilian government.

The cybersecurity EO was pulled just hours before it was due to be signed in January, and its fate has been  unclear since.

Monday Joyce said he didn’t want to be specific about timing for a roll-out, but added it was “close and nearby.”

“We want to make sure that the cybersecurity EO emerges with the time and attention it needs … and at the same time is sequenced with other things the administration is rolling out so we don’t distract from other important messages that are out there.”

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Executive order, Federal IT, IT modernization, Jared Kushner, Office of American Innovation, Robert Joyce, Trump administration