President Barack Obama announced former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and former IBM [IBM] CEO Sam Palmisano have been appointed as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.
The commission was first announced the week of Feb. 8, as part of the administration’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) to make recommendations on actions to strengthen cybersecurity in the public and private sectors.
The commission’s task is “not to generate some fat report that collects dust, but in a timely way focuses on what are the long-term challenges that we face, what are the systems that we need to build, and can set a clear sense of direction for the federal government, working in concert with the private sector, state, and local actors for the next five years, 10 years, 20 years,” Obama said in a statement.
Obama noted Donilon understands every aspect of the American intelligence and national security systems while Palmisano has both private sector and non-profit/advisory board experience, “thinking very deeply about the issue of how do we make cybersecurity a top priority and how do we do better by the American people.”
Donilon served as Assistant to the President and National Security Adviser from 2010 to 2013 and Deputy National Security Adviser from 2009 to 2010. Previously, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State from 1993 to 1996. He currently is a partner at O’Melveny & Meyers LLP.
Palmisano is currently chairman of the Center for Global Enterprise, which he established in 2013, and previously worked at IBM for nearly 40 years, ending his time there as CEO, Chairman of the Board, and senior adviser. He previously served as the company’s COO and Group Executive of Enterprise Systems.
Obama was confident in his choices.
“So with a chairman who understands government and national security issues, a vice-chairman from the private sector who understands the intimacies of computing, of the digital world, the economic aspects of this, I think we’ve got two of the best possible people to chair this–to head up this effort.”
Obama noted key cabinet secretaries like Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Penny Prtizker, Secretary of Commerce, as well as others will work closely with the commission.
The remaining commission members will come from top strategic, business, and technical thinkers from outside of government, including members to be designated by the bipartisan congressional leadership, the administration said. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will provide the commission support to carry out its mission.
Obama highlighted the commission will produce a report by Dec. 1 that will advise his administration and potentially following administrations on how to deal with long term cybersecurity problems.
He said the commission’s scope is broad and includes how to keep large federal databases more secure; how to more effectively work with critical sectors of the economy, like financial and critical infrastructure, to make sure the systems are more secure; how to provide the public with timely and continuously updated information on best cyber practices to keep finances and information safe; how to improve the process of purchasing secure IT software and hardware for the government so it is less vulnerable to hacking; and how to make sure the government attracts the best personnel for cybersecurity.
“So there’s going to be a wide range of issues that these guys are charged with. I have told them that they’re going to have the full support of the White House and the federal government in moving this effort forward,” Obama said.