Increasing threats from cyberspace mean that Congress needs to rethink how it oversees the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity efforts, according to a report sent to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee by Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., on April 30, 2018.

“We all agree the digital threat is one of the most dangerous and prolific of modern times, and I think it needs to be made a higher priority,” Ruppersberger said in a news release on the report.

“We are spending billions of dollars a year on the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity mission and the threat is only getting worse. From finally having our first-ever, cyber-specific budget hearing to considering a wholesale reorganization of the government’s cyber efforts, I hope these recommendations better position us to protect ourselves and American companies.”

The report offers seven actions the committee should take to ensure a better cyber posture in the federal government:

  1. Hold a cyber-specific FY19 budget hearing;
  2. Focus on threats posed by leaked cyber capabilities;
  3. Focus on DHS efforts to protect against threats to industrial control systems;
  4. Evaluate the merits of shifting cyber research and development from the Science and Technology Directorate to the National Protection and Programs Directorate
  5. Focus on DHS efforts to improve information sharing;
  6. Explore alternative government organizational structures for cybersecurity; and
  7. Evaluate DHS’s implementation of National Infrastructure Advisory Council recommendations.

Ruppersberger wrote that the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Homeland Security should also evaluate whether the current structural model of the Executive Branch is even structured to carry out national cybersecurity. He cited former NSA Director and founding Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Gen. Keith Alexander’s January 2017 op-ed for Fifth Domain, which called for a rethinking of how private and public sectors interact in cyberspace, as evidence of the committees’ increased need for oversight.

“The men and women tasked with executing the Department of Homeland Security’s many and critical missions are hard-working patriots. The goal of this report is to empower them and give them the resources they need to continue protecting us all,” Ruppersberger said.

The report is based on conversations Ruppersberger had with current and retired government officials, as well as industry stakeholders on the effectiveness of the DHS cyber mission.