Lawmakers Criticize State Department’s ‘Misguided Cyberspace Reorganization’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Saul Loeb/AP

A bipartisan group of four lawmakers said the State Department’s proposed realignment would only serve to reinforce existing silos.

Days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved the creation of a new bureau to lead diplomatic efforts around cybersecurity and emerging tech, four lawmakers have called on President-elect Joe Biden to halt the bureau after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., alongside Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., released a joint statement Monday condemning the State Department’s decision to create the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies. King, Sasse, Gallagher and Langevin were members of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which last year issued a series of major policy overhauls and structural changes in how the government addresses cybersecurity.

“We are concerned that the State Department has moved forward with a misguided cyberspace reorganization in the waning days of the Trump administration despite objections from Congressional leaders. In our report, we emphasize the need for a greater emphasis on international cyber policy at State,” the lawmakers said. “However, unlike the bipartisan Cyber Diplomacy Act, the State Department’s proposed Bureau will reinforce existing silos and hinder the development of a holistic strategy to promote cyberspace stability on the international stage.”

“We urge President-elect Biden to pause this reorganization when he takes office in two weeks and work with Congress to enact meaningful reform to protect our country in cyberspace,” the lawmakers added.

Lawmakers have voiced objections to the bureau before, most recently in September following an investigation by the Government Accountability Office. GAO’s audit found the State Department did not consult with other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, in coordinating plans for the bureau, which would inevitably have to work with a slew of other federal agencies.