Origins: The White House Cyber Agenda

Welcome to Origins: The White House Cyber Agenda, our signature feature designed to give readers a primer on the current administration’s cyber policy initiatives.

Realizing the urgency of addressing today’s global cyber threats, the current administration pledged from the start to reform, protect, and modernize U.S. cybersecurity and risk management policy and practices.  Origins: The White House Cyber Agenda takes a close look at these reforms and presents them in an easy-to-digest format.


The White House | Cybersecurity

  • An Executive Branch Enterprise:  It is the Trump Administration’s priority that cybersecurity be treated as an executive branch enterprise.  In his May 11th Executive Order President Trump stated that “[t]he executive branch operates its information technology (IT) on behalf of the American people.” And further that “[t]he President will hold heads of executive departments and agencies (agency heads) accountable for managing cybersecurity risk to their enterprises.” President Trump concluded that “because risk management decisions made by agency heads can affect the risk to the executive branch as a whole, and to national security, it is also the policy of the United States to manage cybersecurity risk as an executive branch enterprise.”



  • Deliberate Modernization: The President’s Executive Order establishes the Trump Administration’s policy “to build and maintain a modern, secure, and more resilient executive branch IT architecture.” The White House stated that “[t]he Government’s information systems will be optimized, prioritizing modernity, safety, usability, and economy, innovating while addressing security.”  The President’s Executive Order authorizes and mandates that the Director of the American Technology Council “coordinate a report to the President from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of OMB, and the Administrator of General Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, as appropriate, regarding modernization of Federal IT.”


  •  Cybersecurity of Critical Infrastructure: It is the Trump Administration’s policy that the executive branch “use its authorities and capabilities to support the cybersecurity risk management efforts of the owners and operators of the Nation’s critical infrastructure”.  President Trump authorizes federal agencies to “identify authorities and capabilities that agencies could employ to support the cybersecurity efforts of critical infrastructure entities” that are identified “to be at greatest risk of attacks that could reasonably result in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security”. The President also initiated efforts to support transparency in the market with cybersecurity risk management practices.


  • Cybersecurity for the Nation: The Trump Administration’s goal is to “ensure that the internet remains valuable for future generations” and that “it is the policy of the executive branch to promote an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet that fosters efficiency, innovation, communication, and economic prosperity, while respecting privacy and guarding against disruption, fraud, and theft.” It is also a priority of the Trump Administration to determine practices to deter any adversaries in order to “[protect] the American people from cyber threats”.  International cooperation in cybersecurity is also a priority of the administration, stating that the United States “must work with allies and other partners toward maintaining the policy set forth [by the executive order].”  The overarching goal of the executive branch is to promote growth in the U.S. cybersecurity workforce to modernize and improve U.S. cybersecurity competitiveness.



The Obama Administration: Technology

Recognizing the need for cyber policy reform, the Obama administration pledged early on to launch a multitude of initiatives relating to cyber security, data privacy, technological innovation and much more.

  • Cybersecurity and Internet Policy: The Obama Administration  created an Internet Policy Task Force to “bring together industry, consumer groups, and policy experts to identify ways of ensuring that the Internet remains a reliable and trustworthy resource for consumers and businesses.” In addition, President Obama “directed a top-to-bottom review of the Federal Government’s efforts to defend our information and communications infrastructure, which resulted in a report titled the Cyberspace Policy Review.”


  • Wireless Infrastructure: President Obama’s National Wireless Initiative aims to make high-speed wireless services available to at least 98 percent of Americans. According to the White House website, “One aspect of the President’s plan is to make more airwaves available (in scientific terms, some 500 Mhz of spectrum), to be available for enhanced cell phones and other wireless services—including dedicated public safety networks—over the next ten years.”


  • A Smarter Power Grid: As part of the Recovery Act, the Obama Administration “invested $4.5 billion in electricity delivery and energy reliability modernization, with total public-private investment amounting to over $10 billion. The Administration released a policy framework and a series of new initiatives in June 2011 that “will empower consumers with tools to better manage their electricity and cut costs, improve the reliability of the electric grid, and help utilities recover from natural disasters faster.



You can find more cyber policy sources on our Resources page.


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