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On Deck: The Cyber Deputy

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By Gautham Nagesh December 23, 2009

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After a long wait, the country finally has it's first cybersecurity czar in the person of Howard Schmidt. Like most of the experts, having interviewed Schmidt I'm well aware the depth of his experience and expertise in this area. But any federal manager is only as good as the people who support him, which is why I was very interested to see this report from Jason Miller of FedNewsRadio about his potential deputy:

Multiple sources say the next piece to the puzzle could be a staff member from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Sources say Sameer Bhalotra is a leading candidate to be deputy cyber coordinator.

"Sameer interviewed with the White House earlier this year, but I don't think a decision has been made," says one source, who like the others requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of personnel announcements.

According to his bio, Bhalotra received an undergraduate degree in Physics and Chemistry from Harvard University and a doctorate in Applied Physics from Stanford University.

He also worked with the CIA in the science and technology directorate and developed new cross-community technology programs as a founding member of the science and technology staff within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Bhalotra also was a member of the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency.

Bhalotra has been with the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2007 where he has focused on cybersecurity and leads the committee's cyber study team.

"Sameer knows how to get stuff done," says another source. "That is the type of person that this position needs."

Bhalotra certainly appears to have the right background for the job, since the intelligence community will undoubtedly be playing huge role in the re-shaping of federal cybersecurity policy next year. Hopefully if chosen his experience working with the Hill will prove valuable as he and Schmidt work to raise the profile and awareness of cybersecurity as a political and governmental issue.

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