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Gov 2.0: FBI Official Fills In As Acting Cybersecurity Chief

The FBI's Chris Painter steps in temporarily as federal CTO Aneesh Chopra expects a permanent appointee to be named in the "not too distant future."
A Department of Justice official has stepped in as acting White House senior director for cybersecurity, federal CTO Aneesh Chopra said today during a meeting with reporters at the Gov 2.0 Summit.

Chris Painter joins the White House on detail from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he has served as deputy assistant director of the cyber division since last year and has worked for years on cybercrime and cybersecurity issues.

Last month, then-acting White House senior director for cybersecurity, Melissa Hathaway -- who had led the 60-day cybersecurity policy review that recommended the creation of a federal cybersecurity coordinator position -- stepped down amid speculation that she was being passed over for that position. She also told the Washington Post that she felt she wasn't empowered to drive change in federal cybersecurity policy.

It is unclear how long Painter will remain at the White House, but Chopra says the White House is "on track" to name a federal cybersecurity coordinator, a position President Obama announced in a widely covered speech in May, in the "not too distant future."

Chopra said he has been actively involved in the hiring process, and has interviewed a number of "top notch" candidates. However, he declined to name any of the top contenders for the job.

It has been more than 90 days since President Obama outlined his cybersecurity strategy and announced the imminent creation of a cybersecurity coordinator position, and no appointee has been named. That delay, and reports that some of the government's top choices have turned down the job, have dampened expectations for the post by some observers.

Others, however, remain convinced that the cybersecurity coordinator will play an important lead role in cybersecurity. Phil Reitinger, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for the National Protection and Programs Directorate and director of the National Cyber Security Center, said late last month that he expects the cybersecurity coordinator to be the central locus for cybersecurity the President had in mind when he announced the position.

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