Top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want to subpoena the State Department for documents related to the overhaul of its Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues (CCI) during a contentious reorganization under then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The CCI oversaw global diplomatic engagement on cyber issues, including cybersecurity, freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet and served as the State Department’s cyber liaison to the White House, federal government and public and private sector.
Last year, Mr. Tillerson moved to reorganize CCI, reshape cyber policy and abolish the coordinator position running the office by merging it into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
At the time, lawmakers from both parties blasted the moves for sending the wrong message to the world about Washington’s willingness to police cyberspace, especially in the wake of major hacking and leaking incidents and scandals.
In January, the House passed a bill essentially restoring the office. This June the Senate Foreign Relations committee then approved a tweaked version of that bill, which established the Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy.
On Thursday, the House Oversight committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, and the top Democrat from its Information Technology subcommittee, Rep. Robin Kelly, Illinois, wrote chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, requesting that he issue a subpoena for documents related to explaining the overhaul that they claim the State Department has withheld from them for almost a year.
“The Department has not produced a single document in 2018 in response to our request,” they wrote in a letter dated August 9.
“As a result,” they added, “we still do not have documents showing the basis of the Department’s decision to shutter CCI, planning for the reorganization of these functions, or any actions taken to implement the recommendations of an August 2017 Inspector General report warning that 77 percent of the Department’s reportable IT assets do not comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act.”
The Democrats go on to explain that last year State Department officials briefed them but failed to provide sufficient details.
Additionally, they write that a letter later sent to State from bipartisan committee members pushing for greater disclosure triggered a 60-page response but omitted “documents from multiple categories of the request.”
Mike Pompeo, who replaced Mr. Tillerson as Secretary of State in April, has said cybersecurity is a top priority.