The White House plans to announce as early as Monday that Melissa Hathaway, top cybersecurity adviser to the director of national intelligence, will oversee a 60-day review of federal cybersecurity efforts, after which she will likely be offered the position of cyber czar, a position President Obama promised to create while campaigning, an intelligence official confirmed on Friday.
Hathaway, who serves as the cyber coordination executive at ODNI and was senior adviser to former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, will leave ODNI for 60 days to conduct the review of overall cyber organization and strategy in the federal government, said multiple sources with inside knowledge of the appointment.
Hathaway will lead the review with the National Security Council, the president's principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy issues with senior advisers and Cabinet officials. The council also helps coordinate policies among federal agencies.
"She will review short-term problems of cybersecurity that need immediate fixing," said an intelligence official that asked not to be named. When asked whether she will be offered the highly anticipated position of cyber czar, he said "probably so."
Cybersecurity experts recommended that the cyber chief hold a senior-level position within the National Security Council.
"[I am] glad to see the White House move out quickly on this pressing issue," said Center for Strategic and International Studies' Cybersecurity commission member and former Office of Management and Budget IT policy chief Bruce McConnell. "I hope they are able to provide greatly needed leadership once the review is completed."
Hathaway chairs the National Cyber Study Group, a senior-level interagency body that played a lead role in the development of President Bush's Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. She also serves as director of the Joint Interagency Cyber Joint Task Force, which oversees coordination of CNCI activities and programs.
Janet Napolitano, the newly appointed secretary of the Homeland Security Department, is running a parallel review at DHS outlining the state of cybersecurity in government.