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NSF & Congress

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Cybersecurity Research and Development

May 14, 2003

The House Science Committee held a hearing to examine federal cybersecurity research and development activities and implementation of last year's Cyber Security Research and Development Act (CSRDA). The hearing confirmed that the United States is vulnerable to cyberattack, but that federal agencies are giving the matter high priority.

In opening remarks, the committee members expressed their concern that, despite passage of the CSRDA in 2002, the nation has been under investing in cybersecurity and that efforts among agencies have not been well-coordinated. The National Science Foundation is the lead agency of the national cybersecurity effort, and Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF's Director, provided testimony on NSF's efforts in the area she referred to as "cybertrust."

Calling cybersecurity an "international problem," Dr. Colwell reported that NSF has doubled its investment in cybersecurity to $53 million, and that, beginning in 2004, efforts throughout the agency will be coordinated under the "cybertrust" title. With new competitions planned, she said, NSF anticipates coming close to the spending goals authorized by Congress. However, she also said that NSF has received many more cybersecurity proposals than it can possibly fund.

During further questioning, Dr. Colwell outlined cybersecurity coordination both inside and outside the agency. She assured the committee that NSF is working with both the Office of Science and Technology Policy and other agencies to coordinate both research efforts and budget strategies. The Foundation will also be convening workshops in the summer to foster communication and coordination among researchers.

Finally, Dr. Colwell said that although some components of a cybersecurity system are in place, much more research needs to be done. Asked by Representative Woolsey about issues of privacy, Dr. Colwell said that in the future the Foundation plans to increase its investment in understanding issues of privacy and technology.

Other witnesses testifying at the hearing were Dr. Charles E. McQueary, Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security; Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and Dr. Anthony J. Tether, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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