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DHS names Washington insider Garcia to head cybersecurity

After a years-long search for the right candidate, Greg Garcia of the ITAA will become the first assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications.

After countless false starts and near misses, the Department of Homeland Security finally has filled the long-vacant spot at the top of the nation's cybersecurity infrastructure. Greg Garcia, a vice president at the Information Technology Association of America, a powerful lobbying group, will become the first assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications.

Garcia, who has been at the ITAA for three years, is stepping into a role that has changed many times over the last few years. But Garcia's main job will be to resurrect the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, a three-year-old plan that has seen precious little use since its publication. Frequent turnover at the top of the DHS cybersecurity ladder, along with shifting priorities in the Bush administration have combined to keep information security on the back burner in Washington. The strategy is dependent upon cooperation from the private sector, and many security officials who have worked with DHS on the strategy's initiatives say the lack of leadership in the department has made it difficult to accomplish much.

Garcia's predecessors have faced problems in getting attention for cybersecurity in Washington, and have been hit by criticism from the private sector, as well. Amit Yoran, the last director of the National Cyber Security Division at DHS, had both industry and government experience, as does Garcia, but left after just a year on the job out of frustration with the lack of support information security was getting inside the Beltway. Garcia has worked in Washington for some time, both in the public and private sectors.

Before joining ITAA in 2003, Garcia was on the staff of the House Science Subcommittee on Research, working on science issues related to IT. Earlier in his career Garcia was a government relations expert at networking gear vendor 3Com Corp.

"We are delighted that the department has chosen Greg Garcia to be assistant secretary," said ITAA President and CEO Phil Bond. "Greg has been a leading voice for improving the safety and security of America's information infrastructure. We wish Greg every success."

In his new role, Garcia will be reporting to George Foresman, the undersecretary for preparedness, who oversees the National Cyber Security Division.

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