U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which includes several pieces of Sasse’s cybersecurity and data transparency legislation.

"Cyber war isn’t science fiction – it’s happening right now but Washington still isn’t taking it seriously," said Sasse. "We have a long way to go but I’m encouraged that this year’s defense bill includes these modest steps toward a serious cyber doctrine and an agile talent pipeline. We’re not operating in a vacuum and, while our adversaries build and develop, we need to make sure our military addresses cybersecurity with the urgency it demands."

"For more than a year, I’ve worked with Senator Schatz to drag Washington into the 21st century when it comes to data," continued Sasse. "Our OPEN Government Data Act is simple: government data should be made public unless an administration can make a compelling reason to keep it under wraps. This legislation passed the Senate last Congress and, with tonight’s passage, I’m glad to carry the momentum forward."

Background on Sasse’s suite of cybersecurity and data transparency measures is found below.

Cyber Deterrence

Under Sasse’s legislation, the Secretary of Defense will have 180 days to submit to Congress a report on cyber doctrine that includes (1) a thorough explanation of the various theoretical approaches to deterrence, (2) an assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of such approaches, (3) a recommendation for a cyber deterrence theory and doctrine for the U.S. Armed Forces, and (4) a dissenting view that outlines weaknesses and offers an alternative theory.

Human Capital and Readiness

In separate Sasse legislation, the Secretary of Defense shall brief the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on the feasibility for a program allowing the Secretary of Defense to waive any requirement in law for the possession of a baccalaureate degree as a condition of employment for certain cybersecurity and computer programming positions for individuals who have demonstrated expertise.

Additional Sasse legislation allows eligible service members to use the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance for courses in cybersecurity and computer coding at institutions approved by the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

Data Transparency

The 2018 NDAA also includes The OPEN Government Data Act, authored by U.S. Senators Ben Sasse and Brian Schatz (D-HI). The legislation would require, by default, the data included at Data.gov to be machine-readable format to make it accessible to anyone and easily searchable. It also protects privacy and national security information when making federal government data available to the public while requiring federal agencies use it to improve decision making. The legislation was passed last December, during the 114th Congress, by the United States Senate.