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Nist Reorganization Plan Would Shutter It Lab's Computer Security Division


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NIST campus

NIST campus

Credit: NIST

A proposed plan to reorganize the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) IT Laboratory would close the Computer Security Division and distribute its resources and functions throughout the lab, despite objections from former officials and warnings that the move would be a backward step for security.

The Computer Security Division has developed encryption algorithms, guidelines for complying with computer security requirements, and standards for government use of information technology. The reorganization, expected to be completed by Oct. 1, will better align the lab's structure and mission, NIST says. However, the agency notes that the reorganization would not include a reduction in work force or major changes to the lab's core competencies, and that strengthening its cybersecurity efforts is a key goal of the plan. Nevertheless, a group of former NIST officials caution that the elimination of the Computer Security Division would be a step backward.

"In our opinion, this proposed reorganization breaks up an organizational component that has effectively provided computer security leadership to the government and the private sector for over 30 years," the group said in a letter to acting NIST director Patrick Gallagher. "We believe it is a major mistake to diminish NIST's computer security program at a time when external support for the program is at an all-time high and when cybersecurity is of vital importance to the economic well-being and security of our nation."

The group says NIST made the plans without public notice or input from stakeholders outside of NIST, and urged the agency to at least wait until President Obama fills the vacant cybersecurity coordinator position.

From Government Computer News

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