The top official in President Joe Biden’s administration focused on the issue of national cybersecurity is set to resign in just a matter of days.
Chris Inglis, the first-ever to serve as the National Cyber Director in the White House, is expected to step down from that role on Feb. 15, The Hill reported.
The report seemingly confirms the rumors of the president’s chief cyber adviser’s impending departure that have been floated over the past month or so.
What is the Office of the National Cyber Director?
According to the White House, the Office of the National Cyber Director was first established within the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 and was filled by Chris Inglis after he was nominated to that new position by President Biden and was subsequently confirmed in that role by the Senate.
Inglis “serves as a principal advisor to the President on cybersecurity policy and strategy, and cybersecurity engagement with industry and international stakeholders,” and also works to protect the “digital ecosystem” and all that it entails while “aggressively addressing and mitigating the risks and threats at large in cyberspace.”
The White House further described how the director’s office was guided by four main goals — “Ensuring federal coherence;” “Improving public-private collaboration;” “Aligning resources to aspirations;” and “Increasing present and future resilience.”
Rumors of an impending departure
Axios, among many other media outlets, had first reported in December 2022 on the likely impending exit of Director Inglis from the Biden administration, presumably because the job he had been tasked with — building up the ONCD from scratch — had largely been accomplished over the course of his 18-month tenure.
Indeed, Inglis, a 30-year veteran of the National Security Agency with a focus on cybersecurity, was initially the sole employee of the new office that now has around 70 people working within it.
Further, the outlet noted that Inglis had previously been clear that he had no plans to remain in the position forever and had always intended to pass the baton of leadership to somebody else once the new office had been fully established in good working order.
Temporary replacement already picked
CNN reported that the ONCD confirmed that the last day for Inglis would be Feb. 15 and that he would be immediately replaced in an acting capacity by Kemba Eneas Walden, a former Microsoft executive turned top deputy who joined the office in May 2022, until President Biden can nominate a permanent replacement.
Inglis said in a statement that he had “full confidence” that the ONCD “is viable and valuable — in its capabilities, its people, and its influence on issues that matter: protecting our Nation’s critical infrastructure, strengthening and safeguarding our technology supply chain, expanding pathways to good-paying cyber jobs, and so many more.”
He also expressed his support for the choice of his principal deputy Walden to take the reins of the office temporarily once he was gone.
National cybersecurity strategy report likely coming soon
CNN also reported that in addition to his normal duties of standing up and filling out the ONCD, a top priority assigned to Inglis was to put together a comprehensive report outlining a national cybersecurity strategy.
In fact, when the rumors first began to circulate in December about his impending departure, numerous Democratic and Republican lawmakers focused on cybersecurity issues had reportedly urged him to stay on until that report was completed, and though there has been no word yet on when that report might be released, it will presumably be soon in light of the fact that Inglis’ resignation is now confirmed as imminent.