FRAMINGHAM (08/03/2009) - Melissa Hathaway, who was regarded as one of the top contenders for the newly created position of White House cybersecurity coordinator, has withdrawn from consideration and resigned as acting senior director for cyberspace citing personal reasons, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Hathaway's resignation is effective Aug. 24. She had been viewed as a top contender for the post of White House cybersecurity coordinator, which was announced by President Barack Obama in May. According to the Journal, Hathaway asked not to be considered for that post about two weeks ago, citing personal reasons.
Hathaway, a former Bush administration aide, was working as cybercoordination executive for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) when she was appointed to her new role by President Obama in February. She was directed to conduct a 60-day review of governmentwide cybersecurity preparedness.
Hathaway's highly anticipated review was completed in May, and recommended several measures that the government needed to take to bolster cybersecurity. One of her recommendations was to establish a cybersecurity office within the executive offices of the president to oversee and enforce the development and implementation of a national cyber security policy.
As cybercoordination executive for the ODNI during the Bush Administration, Hathaway headed a multiagency group called the National Cyber Study Group that was instrumental in developing the multibillion-dollar, highly classified Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative (CNCI) that was approved by former President Bush in early 2008. Since then, right up to the time she was reassigned by Obama, Hathaway had been in charge of coordinating and monitoring the CNCI's implementation.
Hathaway's sudden resignation is likely to raise questions about the delay in naming the new White House cybersecurity coordinator. Though it's been more than eight weeks since Obama announced his plans to appoint a White House cyber czar, there is no indication that he is close to naming anyone to the post.
Some observers say the administration may be having a hard time finding someone to fill the role because it is expected to be a largely consultative position with little real enforcement clout.