Homeland Security Dept. Would Absorb NIPC

The White House's proposed new cabinet agency would take over cyber defense from the FBI

The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) and several other key federal cyber security organizations would be subsumed by the new Department of Homeland Security, under the sweeping proposal announced by President Bush on Thursday to create the cabinet-level agency.

The Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO), now part of the Commerce Department, the Pentagon's National Communication System (NCS), the Department of Energy's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center and the GSA's Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC) would also join the new department.

The various organizations would bring their existing resources with them to form a $364 million "Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection" division staffed with 976 people. It would be the smallest of four divisions in the new Department of Homeland Security.

"The speed, virulence, and maliciousness of cyber attacks have increased dramatically in recent years," the White House proposal reads. "Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security would place an especially high priority on protecting our cyber infrastructure from terrorist attack."

Bush announced the proposal for the new department in a nationally televised address Thursday night. It would consist entirely of existing organizations cherry-picked from other parts of the federal government, and would take over the U.S. Secret Service, the Customs Service, INS and the Coast Guard. In all, it would inherit 169,154 employees and $37.45 billion from the agencies it absorbed.

The proposal must now be weighed by the 88 congressional committees and subcommittees that oversee the existing agencies.

Cyber security has held a prominent place in the administration's reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks. In October, Bush issued an executive order that created a Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, chaired by former NSC counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, and inaugurated a 30-member National Infrastructure Advisory Council consisting of CEOs, academicians and local government representatives that advise the president on infrastructure security.

By Kevin Poulsen

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