Portman, Peters Introduce Bill to Modernize and Increase Transparency in U.S. Response to Cyber-Attacks on Federal Agencies

December 11, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced a bipartisan bill that would increase transparency and modernize how the government responds to cybersecurity incidents on federal information systems. In June 2019, Senator Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a bipartisan report that found that the vast majority of agencies reviewed by the Subcommittee failed to implement effective and comprehensive cybersecurity frameworks as required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA).

“The federal government has a responsibility to secure the information of all Americans.  As bad actors continue to exploit weaknesses in federal systems, it’s critical that the federal government is able to quickly respond to any incident and better protect the information in its care,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan bill takes important steps to better coordinate our government’s response to breaches and quickly inform the American people if their information has been compromised.”

“Our federal information systems are subjected to persistent cyber-attacks that pose a significant national security threat, and our government is not currently prepared to effectivity respond to them,” said Senator Peters. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan bill that will modernize our government’s cyber defenses and increase transparency in how they respond in order to better protect the American people.”

The Federal System Incident Response Act will update and add critical new sections to FISMA, increasing transparency by clarifying how and when agencies must notify impacted individuals and Congress when data breaches occur. The bill would also require agencies to share information about cybersecurity incidents with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to ensure that attacks against one agency can be compared to other agency incidents. With this information, CISA will produce an annual report on federal incidents to help federal and private sector cybersecurity professionals understand the most common and dangerous threats, bolstering their cyber defenses. Finally, to streamline operations, the bill would require the OMB director to develop guidance and templates for agencies, standardizing processes and reducing the cost and time to share this critical information.

Portman and Peters have led several bipartisan efforts to bolster our nation’s cybersecurity defenses. They introduced a bill to require the federal government to make better investments in cybersecurity protections to keep Americans’ data safe. The Senate also unanimously approved their legislation to promote stronger cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments.