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9/19/2006
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IT Lobbyist Named Federal Cybersecurity Chief

ITAA Vice President Gregory Garcia becomes the first assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications within the Department of Homeland Security, a post that's been vacant for more than a year.

The Bush administration tapped an IT industry lobbyist to fill the top cybersecurity post in the federal government, a position that's been vacant since its creation more than a year ago.

Gregory Garcia will be assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications within the Department of Homeland Security, and will report to Under Secretary for Preparedness George Foresman. Garcia has been serving as VP for information security policy and programs at the Information Technology Association of America, the IT industry's chief lobbying group, and served on Homeland Security's IT Sector Coordinating Council.

At Congressional hearings last week, Foresman said that department was having difficulty finding someone to fill the post, either because people turned down offers or candidates were eventually deemed unsuited for the job.

The failure to name someone to the post quickly suggested to some cybersecurity experts in and out of government that the Bush administration places greater emphasis on physical security than on cybersecurity. Having the top cybersecurity official as an assistant secretary within Homeland Security rather as a White House advisor also signals a diminishment of the importance of cybersecurity, some experts say.

Foresman, though, discounted that contention, testifying last week that he spends 25% of his time on cybersecurity matters.

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