Washington, DC—Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued this week on the State Department’s proposal for a new Cyber Bureau:
“There’s no question that we must strengthen the State Department’s tools to address the challenges of cyber space in our foreign policy. But Secretary Pompeo took his characteristically reckless approach to this critical issue: he ignored the expertise of outside specialists and bipartisan congressional leaders, blocked bipartisan legislation for years, and instead forced through in his final weeks a deeply flawed alternative proposal. A September 2020 GAO report found the State Department failed to consult other federal agency partners about its plan to establish the bureau. Now this week, another study released by GAO concluded that State did not use data or evidence to develop its proposal. Secretary Pompeo’s slipshod approach to this vital national security challenge was a disservice to the State Department and our national security.
“The State Department needs a Bureau capable of tackling the growing global challenges of cyber security, the digital economy, and internet freedom. I hope Secretary Blinken and the Biden administration will review this decision and work with Congress to establish an effective Cyber Bureau without further delay.”
In 2018, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), advanced the Cyber Diplomacy Act, which went on to pass the full House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) with broad bipartisan support. Secretary Pompeo blocked the legislation from advancing, instead moving forward his own proposal.
A September 2020 GAO report highlighted serious problems with the State Department’s plan, including a complete failure to coordinate with other government agencies working on cyber security. On January 28, 2021, the GAO released a second report on the Pompeo plan, concluding it was formulated without data or evidence to support its design.
# # #