Government announces opening for new cybersecurity chief

Friday, June 6th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Help Wanted: High-pressure, high-profile position as Bush administration's new cybersecurity chief, responsible for helping protect the computers running the government as well as the nation's banks, pipelines and utilities.

Salary? Don't ask.

"It's not about the money," said Robert P. Liscouski, the assistant secretary at the Homeland Security Department who announced the job Friday, weeks after officials outlined their intentions privately to lawmakers, technology executives and lobbyists.

Liscouski, a former Coca-Cola executive, said hoped to name the new cybersecurity chief within 30 days but acknowledged it "might be a little bit of a challenge." Candidates so far have been so sparse that he solicited suggestions Friday from about two dozen industry executives and even journalists.

Liscouski sought to ease concerns expressed by industry experts that the post, which effectively replaces a position once held by a special adviser to President Bush, won't be powerful enough. The new job, which will pay roughly $120,000 to $142,000, will be at least three steps beneath Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Liscouski said Ridge, who's not a technology expert, has a "laser-beam focus on cybersecurity" and that the organizational chart "does not preclude the secretary from having a day-to-day interest in what is going on here."

Industry officials said the position falls short of what is needed.

"It's a step forward, not a perfect solution," said Harris Miller, head of the Information Technology Association of America, an industry trade group. "It's important this person have enough resources to carry out his responsibilities."

Bill Harrod, director of investigative response at TruSecure Corp., said the decision to move the cybersecurity chief's job inside Homeland Security "appears to indicate it doesn't have the same leadership potential and capability than there was when it was reporting to the Oval Office."

Richard Clarke was Bush's top cyberspace adviser until he retired this year after nearly three decades with the government. Clarke's deputy, Howard Schmidt, resigned last month and accepted a job as chief information security officer for eBay Inc.

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