The White House on Thursday named retired Brig. Gen. Gregory Touhill as the first Federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in line with the administration’s larger cybersecurity plans.

Citing the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) announced by President Obama in February (Defense Daily, Feb. 9), U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott and J. Michael Daniel, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator, announced the appointment, which aims “to drive cybersecurity policy, planning, and implementation across the Federal Government.”

Brigadier General (Retired) Gregory Touhill is named the first Federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Photo: U.S. Air Force.
Brigadier General (Retired) Gregory Touhill is named the first Federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Photo: U.S. Air Force.

Touhill is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) in the National Protections and Programs Directorate (NPPD). At DHS, Touhill focuses on development and implementation of operational programs meant to protect government networks and critical infrastructure.

Touhill retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2013 following a career that culminated as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of Command, Control, Communications, and Cyber Systems at U.S. Transportation Command, one of the 10 combatant commands. As Senior Cyberspace Operations officer, he led the command’s cyberspace defense mission and oversaw a $500 million information technology (IT) portfolio.

Earlier in his career, Touhill was the U.S. Defense Attaché to Kuwait, where he coordinated a long-term bilateral defense agreement allowing U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq through Kuwait. He was also commander of the 81st Training Wing where he established the Air Force’s Cyberspace Operations training programs and led a $1 billion rebuilding of Keesler AFB, Miss, after Hurricane Katrina, the administration said.

As Federal CISO, Touhill will be tasked with using his experience and knowledge of civilian and military best practices, capabilities, and human capital training, development, and retention strategies to lead a cybersecurity team at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB group he will lead conducts periodic cyber reviews with federal agencies to ensure implementation plans are effective and achieve desired outcomes, the White House said.

The CISO will also have a central role in “helping to ensure the right set of policies, strategies, and practices are adopted across agencies and keeping the Federal Government at the leading edge of 21st century cybersecurity,” the White House said.

Scott and Daniel also announced the administration was naming Grant Schneider as Acting Deputy CISO. Schneider currently serves as the Director for Cybersecurity Policy on the National Security Council (NSC) staff. There, he focuses on development and oversight of cybersecurity policies to protect government data, networks, and systems.

“In creating the CISO role, and looking at successful organizational models across government, it became apparent that having a career role partnered with a senior official is not only the norm but also provides needed continuity over time,” Scott and Daniel said in explaining the choice.