Crucial Help Wanted at Cyber Director’s Office as CHIPS Act Adds to Responsibilities

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The Office of the National Cyber Director is looking to fill two critical positions, while a recent executive order requires participation on a new steering council.

The Office of the National Cyber Director must send a designee, as will several  major departments and agencies, to participate in a new council. That requirement is part of an executive order aimed at coordinating federal agencies’ implementation of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors—or CHIPS—Act.

The legislation, signed by the president earlier this month, is an effort to reduce reliance on China-based suppliers of emerging technologies. It approves $54 billion for agencies to incentivize and boost US production of semiconductors used in electric devices. It also funds a grants program for the development of Open Radio Access Networking—or O-RAN—technology

Other members of the steering council include: the secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Commerce, Labor and Energy, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Small Business Administrator, the Director of National Intelligence and the director of the National Science Foundation. 

The order, published in the Federal Register Tuesday, allows members of the council to consult with external stakeholders and weigh in with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on how agencies should effectively implement the CHIPS Act.

The order identifies “strengthening and expanding regional manufacturing and innovation ecosystems, including by investing in suppliers, manufacturers, workforce development, basic and translational research, and related infrastructure and cybersecurity throughout the microelectronics supply chain,” as one of six priorities. Another is “generating benefits—such as well-paying, high skilled union jobs and opportunities for startups; small businesses; and minority-owned, veteran-owned and women-owned businesses.”

The Office of the National Cyber Director has already issued budget guidance to agencies in accordance with President Biden’s May, 2021, executive order on cybersecurity.

But as agencies prepare their proposals—which are expected to include approaches for collaborating with private companies in sectors to which they’ve been designated risk management agencies—observers at the Government Accountability Office have noted a feeling of limbo as they wait for the cyber director to issue a national strategy on cybersecurity

The strategy is expected in September. Meanwhile, ONCD is still looking to fill two crucial positions. Per a recent tweet from the office, ONCD posted two new roles at 14 and 15 levels of the general schedule pay scale for federal employees. The first is for a director of supply chain and technology security, “responsible for formulating, coordinating and implementing policy related to [Information and Communications Technology] supply chains and the security of tech software, hardware, and services.” The other is for a director of cyber policy and programs, “responsible for planning and coordinating the development and implementation of U.S. national cybersecurity policy.”