Tuesday, July 24, 2018

S 3153 Introduced – FY 2018/19 Intel Authorization

Last month Sen. Burr (R,NC) introduced S 3153, the Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. Both the bill and the accompanying Committee Report pay special attention to control system security issues.

Energy Sector Cybersecurity

Section 732 of the bill would require the Secretary of Energy to establish a 2-year pilot program to study control system security in the energy sector. The pilot program would be funded at $10 Million for the 2-year study. This section is essentially the same as S 79 which was reported in the Senate earlier this year by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

ICS Security and the Intelligence Community

On page 17 of the Committee Report, the matter of industrial control system security is directly addressed. The Report notes:

“The Committee is aware of significant threats to our critical infrastructure and industrial control systems posed by foreign adversaries. The sensitive nature of the information related to these threats make the role of the IC of vital importance to United States defensive efforts. The Committee has grave concerns that current IC resources dedicated to analyzing and countering these threats are neither sufficient nor closely coordinated. The Committee includes provisions within this legislation to address these concerns.”

Section 732 of the bill (described above) is the only place that I can find in the unclassified portions of the bill and annexes that directly mentions activities related to ICS security.

Moving Forward

The House passed HR 6237, the House version of this bill earlier this month. While the House bill did receive a large measure of bipartisan support, the Senate will still take up this version of the bill as an amendment to HR 6237 when it comes to the floor of the Senate. I expect that to happen sometime after the Senate returns from the abbreviated summer recess next month. There will be some contentious political amendments offered for the bill when it makes it to the floor, but eventually a version of the bill will be passed and then a conference committee will meld the two versions together into a workable whole.


It is interesting to see the language from S 79 appear in this bill. Sen. King (I,ME) has been trying to get this bill to move forward through two sessions of Congress now, so it is not unexpected that he would use his position on the Intelligence Committee to try to advance the bill when it was apparently stalled after being approved in the Energy and Natural Resource Committee.

The association between this bill and the intelligence community is vague to say the least. The working group to be established would be under the Department of Energy which does have some tenuous ties to the IC, but that has been mainly in support of nuclear weapons program, not power generation. King has always included a representative of the IC in the working group {§732(c)(2)(F) in this bill}, but that always seemed to me to be a pro forma inclusion as a source of information rather than an actual participant.

It will be interesting to see where the funds come from to support this program. If they come out the intelligence spending bill, then I expect that the role of the IC will be much more important in the activities of the working group and the resulting study.

One political fact is certain however. Since the authorization for the program (if it makes it to the final bill that reaches the President’s desk) comes from the Intelligence Committee, it will be that Committee (and it’s House counterpart) that will provide the oversight for the program, that alone will color many of the decisions made as the program proceeds.

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