Reitinger Leaves Big Shoes to Fill

Various media outlets are reporting that Philip Reitinger, the deputy undersecretary of the Homeland Security Department's National Protection and Programs Directorate, is resigning.

National Journal released an email Reitinger sent to DHS employees this afternoon:

I have decided that the time has come for me to move on from the department. With significant progress having been made in activities across NPPD [National Protection and Programs Directorate], with growing recognition of DHS's roles and authorities, and the cybersecurity legislative proposal now delivered to the Hill, it's a logical point for me to leave the Department of Homeland Security and allow the team that we have developed together to carry our initiatives forward. One of our greatest successes is the high-caliber team we have all built, and I have no doubt of your growing capabilities and continued success.

Reitinger had a background in the private sector as chief trustworthy infrastructure strategist at Microsoft, on the defense side as executive director of the Defense Department's Cyber Crime Center, and in law enforcement as deputy chief of the Justice Department's Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, Criminal Division. Hence he brought a unique mix of experience and perspective to DHS.

With a degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilit and a law degree from Yale, he could communicate in both geekspeak and legalese, making him a huge asset to the department and the Obama administration.

In addition to playing a key role in developing the administration's comprehensive cybersecurity legislative proposal to Congress released last week, Reitinger spearheaded the department's release earlier this year of the white paper "Enabling Distributed Security in Cyberspace," which called for a holistic approach to addressing cybersecurity. He also navigated the agency through its sometimes treacherous relationship with the Pentagon on who was in charge of cybersecurity in the government. And he helped rebuild and repair Homeland Security's somewhat frayed relationships with the private sector.

Reitinger will be sorely missed, but the structure, order and maturity he brought the agency's cybersecurity efforts may well endure.