White House appoints first Federal Chief Information Security Officer

Retired Brigadier General Gregory J. Touhill will assume the role after serving in the Department of Homeland Security.

The White House announced Thursday that retired Brigadier General Gregory J. Touhill will serve as the first federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

"The CISO will play a central role in helping to ensure the right set of policies, strategies, and practices are adopted across agencies and keeping the Federal Government at the leading edge of 21st century cybersecurity," read a blog post penned by Tony Scott, US Chief Information Officer, and J. Michael Daniel, special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator.

The new role will be housed within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the CISO will report to Scott. The White House called the position a "key feature" of the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that President Obama laid out in February to drive cybersecurity planning across the entire federal government.

The announcement comes the day after the release of a congressional report suggesting that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach, which occurred over 2014 and 2015 -- one of the largest and most significant data breaches in US history -- could have been prevented by basic security controls.

Touhill currently serves within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as the deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C). He brings to the new role "considerable experience in managing a range of complex and diverse technical solutions at scale," the blog post said, as well as "strong knowledge of both civilian and military best practices, capabilities, and human capital training." In his role at DHS, Touhill helped lead the response to the OPM hack.

The White House also announced that Grant Schneider will serve as the Acting Deputy CISO. Schneider currently serves as director for cybersecurity policy on the White House's National Security Council staff.

"In creating the CISO role, and looking at successful organizational models across government, it became apparent that having a career role partnered with a senior official is not only the norm but also provides needed continuity over time," Thursday's blog post said.

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