Tuesday, June 23, 2020

S 3712 Introduced – Cybersecurity Grand Challenges

Last month Sen Wicker (R,MS) introduced S 3712, the Cyber Leap Act of 2020. The bill would require the Department of Commerce to establish five cybersecurity grand challenges. The bill was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee with two amendments on May 20th, 2020.

Grand Challenges

The bill would add a new section 205 to the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 (15 USC 7431 et seq.). It would require DOC to establish grand challenge competitions using the processes outlined in 15 USC 3719 in order to “achieve high-priority breakthroughs in cybersecurity by 2028” {§205(a)(1)}. The challenges would address:

• Economics of a cyber-attack,
• Cyber training,
• Emerging technology,
• Reimagining digital identity, and
• Federal agency resilience

A sixth, general ‘other challenges’ category was removed in Committee by an amendment proposed by Sen Lee (R,UT).

The Department would be required to “request and accept funds from other Federal agencies, State, United States territory, local, or tribal government agencies, private sector for-profit entities, and nonprofit entities to support efforts to pursue a national cybersecurity grand challenge under this section” {§205(b)(5)}. There are no other funding provisions within the bill.

To aid in carrying out these grand challenge authorities DOC is required to establish an advisory committee. A second amendment by Lee would specifically prohibit paying committee members for anything beyond travel expenses.

Moving Forward

As mentioned above, the bill was adopted in Committee where it did receive a measure of bipartisan support with one Democratic cosponsor {Sen Rosen (D,NV)} and it was adopted by a voice vote, a sign of the lack of serious opposition to the bill. If this bill is to be considered in the Senate this session, it would have to be taken up under the unanimous consent process. With the lack of any spending authority, that remains a possibility.

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