Coker confirmed as cyber director

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On a bipartisan vote, the Senate confirmed Harry Coker to lead the Office of the National Cyber Director at the White House.

The Senate voted to confirm Harry Coker as national cyber director on Tuesday on a vote of 59-40. 

Coker was nominated in July by President Joe Biden to replace Chris Inglis, who retired from the position in February. When Inglis retired, it was widely thought that his deputy Kemba Walden would be an obvious choice for a replacement, but her candidacy was hindered by doubts about the extent of her personal debt, according to press reports over the summer.

Coker, who served in the Navy for 20 years and has held senior positions at CIA and the National Security Agency, told senators at his confirmation hearing in November that he planned to bring the discipline of a program manager to the process of delivering on the National Cybersecurity Strategy:

"As a former program manager in the government, I know it's key to have cost, schedule and performance…metrics. They have to be there. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. So ONCD, to their credit…has done a masterful job and pulling their strategy and implementation plan together."

Coker also spoke favorably about the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s “secure-by-design” efforts to shift responsibility for cybersecurity from end users to software developers and hardware manufacturers.

"We need to ensure that it's not just a focus on first-to-market. It needs to be secure-to-market," Coker told lawmakers in November. "And the government can incentivize secure-by-design, secure-to-market, and so that's the way that needs to be demonstrated as we shift that balance to realign the incentives towards that."

Acting National Cyber Director Drenan Dudley welcomed the Senate vote, saying she was “delighted that the Senate confirmed Mr. Coker as our next national cyber director. His four decades of experience in the public and private sector will further ONCD’s success. We look forward to his leadership advancing the work underway to implement President Biden’s National Cybersecurity Strategy."

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