Ex-Cyber Chair in House Extols New One

Tom Davis Touts New House Oversight Chief Issa as Tech Whiz
The last Republican to chair the House committee with primary cybersecurity oversight says the incoming head of the panel is a technology whiz who understands the cyber equation."Darrell is as tech savvy as they come," says former Rep. Tom Davis of Darrell Issa, the California Republican who will become the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform when the GOP takes control of the lower chamber in January.

"Darrell is a technology whiz, not just in rhetoric, but in his actual applications," Davis says in an interview with GovInfoSecurity.com, noting that Issa, founder of the business that produced the Viper car alarm, holds about three dozen patents. "He understands the cyber equation very well. You want somebody like that sitting in that kind of position."

Davis, who represented a northern Virginia district in suburban Washington, chaired the committee then known as Government Reform when the Republicans last held the majority in the House of Representatives. Davis, who coauthored the Federal Information Security Management Act, left Congress in 2006, just as Democrats were about to begin their 4-year reign as the majority party in the House.

To some Democrats, Issa is seen as a highly partisan figure who would use his platform as Oversight and Government Reform chairman to investigate the Obama administration and embarrass Democrats, which he has denied. In a television appearance this week, Issa said he'll use the subpoena power to probe the mortgage crisis, the former Mineral Management Service and food safety. In a conference call with reporters, Issa said his new position isn't to bring down President Obama, but added that "I have a lot of questions that have not been answered."

Could bitter confrontation between Issa and the White House sour relations with Democrats on cybersecurity legislation and oversight, which has proven to be bipartisan? Davis thinks not. "Darrell is going to be strong enough to be able to be able to reach across the lines to coordinate with Carper or Rockefeller or whoever," Davis says, referring to Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Democrats who have backed significant federal government cybersecurity reforms.

In the interview, Davis also says:

  • Congress is unlikely to enact significant cybersecurity legislation during the lame-duck session;
  • Partisan bickering over other issues shouldn't necessarily torpedo congressional cooperation on cybersecurity initiatives; and
  • The White House could significantly reform cybersecurity governance without new legislation.

Davis, director of Federal Government Affairs at the management consultancy Deloitte & Touche, was interviewed by GovInfoSecurity.com's Eric Chabrow.

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