Kemba Walden
Image: Kemba Walden via Twitter

National cyber strategy implementation will be ‘dynamic and iterative,’ acting National Cyber Director says

SAN FRANCISCO — A plan to enact the Biden administration’s recently released national cyber strategy could be published within the next few months, according to a senior White House official.

An implementation plan for the policy blueprint could be available by “early summer,” Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden told reporters on Tuesday during a roundtable discussion at the RSA Conference.

Implementation of the first-of-its-kind strategy has become a central focus for the administration — and Capitol Hill — since it was unveiled early last month. Walden, who has served in the top role since February, told House lawmakers last month that her office was leading implementation, in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“The devil’s in the implementation planning process,” she said today, adding officials have been working for months on “assigning roles and responsibilities across the interagency.”

“When this implementation plan is published, it's not going to be sexy,” Walden joked. “It's really going to be about who's accountable for what, who's responsible for what in the policy making process.”

She said she wants the development of the plan to be “inclusive” and not “only the government speaking in a bubble. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t think we’re on track for that to happen.”

Walden said the eventual scheme would be “dynamic and iterative.”

“When you see it post, keep checking on it, because it's going to keep updating as we complete tasks, as we move the needle forward,” she told reporters.

‘Plenty of work to go around’

When asked about her relationship with Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, Walden said they meet and talk on a “regular basis.” Reports emerged earlier this month that friction between ONCD and the White House contributed to Chris Inglis — the country’s first cyber director — deciding to leave the administration before the national cyber strategy was released.

“We're focused on some of the same things,” Walden said of Neuberger. “We're two grown-ups working in the White House on the same issue and there's plenty to go around.”

Walden, who is widely viewed as a top contender for the cyber director post, also demurred about tensions between Neuberger and Jen Easterly, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

“This is what I can say: I cannot control anyone else. I don't know what Anne and Jen's relationship is. I have a great relationship with Jen. I have a great relationship with Anne and there's a lot of work to go on. The only behavior I can control is mine,” she said, adding “there genuinely is plenty of work to go around.”

“I'm just grateful that we have smart leaders that are thinking about this thoughtfully and that are passionate about it. And as far as I can tell, Jen is passionate about her work and Anne is passionate about her work. And ONCD works by, with and through others.”

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak

is the senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. Prior to joining Recorded Future News in 2021, he spent more than five years at Politico, where he covered digital and national security developments across Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. He previously was a reporter at The Hill, National Journal Group and Inside Washington Publishers.