For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON – Election industry representatives from across the country met yesterday with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and representatives from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to launch the formation of an industry-led Sector Coordinating Council. Sector Coordinating Councils are bodies that enable critical infrastructure owners and operators to share information and work together with DHS on sector-specific strategies, policies, and activities.
“The integrity of our electoral process is a vital national interest, and we are facing an environment in which threats to this process are continuously evolving,” said David Wulf, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection. “No one entity – whether private or public – can manage the risk to our critical election infrastructure on its own. The SCC framework provides a well-tested mechanism for sharing threat information between the Federal government and council partners, advancing risk-management efforts, and providing federal agencies with insight into the security landscape faced by industry.”
“Election industry leaders have a key role to play when it comes to securing elections. Wednesday’s meeting was a critical next step toward ensuring a truly coordinated response to the threats against election systems,” said EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson.
The meeting, which took place in Arlington, Virginia included State and local election officials and is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing work to build trusted relationships across both the private and public sectors to help keep the nation’s election systems secure. January 2017, DHS designated election infrastructure as a subsector of the existing Government Facilities critical infrastructure sector. The designation enabled DHS to prioritize cybersecurity assistance to state and local election officials who request it, made clear domestically and internationally that election infrastructure enjoys all the benefits and protections of critical infrastructure that the U.S. government has to offer, and enabled full and frank discussions between DHS and key stakeholders regarding sensitive vulnerability information.
In mid-October, 2017, DHS, the EAC, and state and local election officials from around the country convened to establish the Government Coordinating Council (GCC) for the Election Infrastructure Subsector, the public-sector counterpart to the SCC.
“The coordination and discussions taking place among local, state, and federal election officials is encouraging, and necessary to help all levels better secure their election systems. The industries that provide elections equipment and systems should also be part of the solution,” said Ricky Hatch, the Election Officials Division Director at the International Association of Government Officials. “The formation of an SCC is a good step towards establishing a framework for effective coordination.”
The GCC/SCC structure is established under the department’s authority to provide a forum in which the government and private sector entities can jointly engage in a broad spectrum of activities to support and coordinate critical infrastructure security and resilience efforts. It is used in each of the critical infrastructure sectors established under Presidential Policy Directive 21--Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience.
DHS expects that formation of the SCC will be finalized in the new year. “The security of our nation's election infrastructure is a high priority for DHS,” says Wulf. “Working closely with the companies that own and manage that infrastructure will be critical to our collective efforts to foster security and ensure the continuing integrity of our elections."