Last week a bipartisan group of US House of Representatives legislators introduced the National Cyber Director Act to create the position of a national cyber director within the White House. The creation of this role is one of the chief recommendations of an increasingly influential intergovernmental group known as the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.The commission issued its report -- the product of months-long deliberations by four members from congress, four senior executive agency leaders and six experts from outside of government \u2013 just as the coronavirus pandemic quarantine kicked in during March. Nevertheless, the commission\u2019s 80 recommendations, such as creating a national cyber director, are quickly being translated into actionable legislation on Capitol Hill.Two of the commission\u2019s leaders, Cyberspace Solarium Chair Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Solarium Co-Chair Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), introduced the bill. Other legislators backing the bill include House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security\u2019s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure and Innovation John Katko (R-NY), former Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee\u2019s Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Will Hurd (R-TX).The creation of a top official responsible for cybersecurity in the White House is not a new idea. Howard Schmidt and Richard Clarke served as special cybersecurity advisers to the president in the George W. Bush White House. Schmidt and Michael Daniel both served as White House cybersecurity coordinator under President Obama. Rob Joyce served as cybersecurity coordinator under Donald Trump until he was pushed out by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton.\u201cCertainly, when Rob Joyce\u2019s position was eliminated by John Bolton, I think that was a major step backward,\u201d Representative Langevin tells CSO. \u201cI think John Bolton sold the president a bill of goods by recommending that the cybersecurity advisor position be eliminated in the first place.\u201d Langevin, Gallagher and the rest of the bill\u2019s backers are looking to make the job a statutory one that will be much more difficult to eliminate in the future.Cyber director has reach across government agenciesThe job of the new director \u201cwould be as a coordinator with policy and budgetary authority in the same way the trade representative has full visibility into the programs in that portfolio,\u201d Langevin says. \u201cThe national cyber coordinator would basically be the individual that would have that visibility and have that policy and budgetary authority to reach across government agencies and really have more of an ability to compel departments and agencies to disclose their cyber vulnerabilities, their gaps, their loopholes in the systems.\u201dThe need for departments and agencies to coordinate is essential, Langevin says. \u201cWe\u2019re learning that now in the time of COVID. The disjointed response from the White House: Who\u2019s in charge? Where is the national leadership on this? It\u2019s a mismatched, hodge-podge of a response.\u201dWhen it comes to cybersecurity, \u201cWe have a lack of systemic coordination, for example, between CISA, NSA, Cybercom [US Cyber Command], etc., and we need to coordinate across the government better than what we\u2019re doing now,\u201d Langevin says. \u201cThe coordinator position would ensure that we are not working at cross purposes.\u201dData breach prevention a key goalThe idea behind all this coordination is to prevent the next Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack from occurring. \u201cThat was a department that clearly did not appreciate or understand the importance or value of the data that they were charged with protecting,\u201d according to Langevin. \u201cIt wasn\u2019t encrypted, they had old IT and data systems, they had been told many times they need to upgrade the security in their systems, and they didn\u2019t do it. So, you had one of the greatest intelligence coups perpetrated against the United States in probably several decades. We will likely still be feeling the impact of those vulnerabilities for decades to come.\u201dGiven the years-long absence of cybersecurity expertise in the current White House, how far down in the hole would a national cyber director be if a new administration takes over next year? Not as far down as some critics of the current administration suggest, Langevin indicates.\u201cIf it\u2019s a new administration, they are going to have their work cut out for them to put things back the way they existed before,\u201d he says. \u201cI would say both CISA and Cybercom continue to make progress even without leadership in the White House, but we need to make sure people aren\u2019t acting in silos.\u201dJonathan Reiber, senior director for cybersecurity strategy and policy at cybersecurity company AttackIQ, agrees. \u201cI think that Cyber Command and CISA are headed by two exceptionally talented people,\u201d Reiber, who served in senior positions in the Department of Defense and the Obama administration, tells CSO. \u201cThe people that I know in government are very, very good. I have tremendous faith in their leadership and their intellectual capacity and their management skills.\u201dIn terms of the proposed national cyber director role, \u201cWhat\u2019s important is that this person can engage across agencies in a way that gives them gravitas for requiring that agencies do certain things,\u201d Reiber says. \u201cYou need someone who could speak with authority to the president, who can run the policy process authoritatively and who can engage the public. It helps to have someone senior in the role who can speak with authority across all those three things.\u201dA full markup of the National Cyber Director Act is slated for July 1 in the House Armed Services Committee. The senate\u2019s version of the National Defense Authorization Act simply recommends a study on the \u201cfeasibility and advisability\u201d of creating a national cyber director.The White House is reportedly resistant to the idea of creating a cyber director. However, the administration\u2019s position will become clearer when it ultimately responds to the full Solarium Commission report, as it is required by law to do.