Nevada cyber defense office wins initial approval |

Nevada cyber defense office wins initial approval

The governor’s proposed Cyber Defense Office won initial approval from a joint subcommittee of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees Thursday.

Robin Titus, R-Wellington, and Irene Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas, argued the office isn’t necessary because there are already a number of agencies dealing with this issue. Titus said she wasn’t convinced this wouldn’t just be a new layer of bureaucracy.

Adams said she thinks there’s coordination among state, local and federal agencies in bringing those efforts together.

“I think we already have something in place that meets these needs,” she said.

Speaker Jason Frierson, chairman of the panel, said he served on the Attorney General’s task force when he worked as a deputy there and he believes creating a formal office would provide needed structure and accountability to efforts to combat cyber attacks on Nevada governments.

“If we do this, we are investing in it and expecting answers and results,” he said.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, also backed the proposal saying, “given the risk, we’ve got to do something.”

Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, moved to approve the office, which will cost $876,365 over the biennium, all of it General Fund money.

Adams and Titus voted against the plan.

During testimony on the proposal on April 7, Daniel Stewart, legal counsel to Gov. Brian Sandoval, described the office as an umbrella to coordinate state and local efforts to defend against cyber attacks, security breaches and hackers.

He said there are numerous agencies that work to defend the state but “the biggest detriment is the lack of coordination.”

Beyond the Office of Cyber Defense, the governor’s budget includes a total of $4.2 million spread across those agencies to enhance the state’s ability to detect, prevent and respond to cyber attacks. Initially, it will have four staff including the coordinator in charge.

The plan must still win approval of the whole Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees.

The subcommittee also approved funding to open a southern Nevada Peace Officer Standards and Training facility in Southern Nevada. At present, the Department of Public Safety’s only training center is in Carson City. But several members including Goicoechea said they would like to find a way to ensure recent graduates trained at state expense don’t just leave to work for Las Vegas Metro which pays significantly more.

“It would seem reasonable if you’re going to take the training and take the contract, an agreement wouldn’t be unreasonable,” he said.

DPS Director Jim Wright said that concept has been raised numerous times but they haven’t found a workable way to do it. He said, however, he has made an agreement with Carson City’s Sheriff not to poach his newly trained officers for at least a couple of years.