A House subcommittee on Thursday unanimously approved several bills related to cyber and nuclear security, and a committee precursor to a bill to strengthen how the Department of Homeland Security’s research and development branch interacts with department components.

The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy Act of 2015 (H.R. 3510) would require DHS to develop a cyber security strategy and implementation plan for all of its cyber security missions. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, and the sponsor of the bill, said it is important for DHS to show “clear leadership” to the federal civilian government and private sector by “showing its own cyber strategy strategic plan, objectives, and measures of success across its many components.”

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies panel
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies panel

The bill comes on the heels of a DHS Inspector General report this week that said the department is improving communication and information sharing in its cyber activities although more can be done, including the need to develop a cyber strategic implementation plan.

Another cyber bill would codify the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI), which is operated by the Secret Service, and is “the premier cyber crime training center” for state and local law enforcement investigators, prosecutors and judicial officials in the United States, said Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), chairman of the panel and the sponsor of the bill.

The Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act (H.R. 3490) would authorize the NCFI to help the Secret Service expand its network of Electronic Crime Task Forces by adding state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officers, and prosecutors and judges educated and trained at the institute, in addition to academia and private sector stakeholders.

The panel unanimously approved an amendment by Richmond that aimed at improving coordination between the NCFI and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, another DHS entity that provides comprehensive training for federal law enforcement officers, including cyber security.

The Securing the Cities Act of 2015 (H.R. 3493) codifies the existing Securing the Cities radiological and nuclear threat detection and prevention program within the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). The program began in 2006 and is under the management of DNDO.

Currently the New York City region, the Los Angeles/Long Beach region, the greater Washington, D.C., area, Houston and Chicago are part of the Securing the Cities program. DNDO provides technology, training and other assistance to these regions to help combat potential nuclear and radiological threats.

The committee print, the DHS Science and Technology Reform and Improvements Act of 2015, makes the department’s Science and Technology Directorate the primary research, development, testing and evaluation component. Several amendments were unanimously agreed to as part of the committee print—which isn’t an official bill yet—including one by Richmond to codify the on-again, off-again Integrated Product Teams (IPT) that bring the directorate and the department’s various components together for R&D efforts. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently directed the re-establishment of the IPTs with a goal of making them permanent.

Three amendments offered en bloc by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) would among other things enhance S&T’s role in the DHS acquisition process by assessing life-cycle costs of programs to tighten cost estimates.

The bills, print, and amendments passed by voice vote and were reported to the full committee.