DHS’s Reitinger says his legacy is the team

Phil Reitinger, deputy undersecretary, DHS

wfedstaff | June 4, 2015 6:42 am

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

The man behind much of the cybersecurity policy development at Homeland Security is stepping down. Phil Reitinger, deputy undersecretary of the DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, leaves his appointed position Friday.

In our exclusive interview with him, Reitinger tells Federal News Radio that while he’s proud of the technology and policy work, it’s the human element he considers his main legacy at DHS. “The thing I’m most proud of accomplishing is the team that we’ve built here,” said Reitinger.

“There’s never a good time to leave,” acknowledged Reitinger, but now that the White House has announced the International Strategy for Cyberspace , he said, “it’s going to be an extended process to….work with Congress on the actual language that will move forward.”


Ideally, he said his successor will come up with a proposal with balance. “What we want to do is have a framework that will reward the companies that are doing a good job, but at the same time recognize that the government doesn’t have all the answers – that we need to bring private sector ideas, and particularly private sector innovation to bear.”

Reitinger left no doubt that the security of the internet is not seen as a strictly government responsibility. Instead, private industry is the “point of the spear” in cyber security, while the federal government will “be involved in helping against some threats, providing defense in depth” and using both federal expertise “and that of our partners to make sure that we can do a very effective job at assisting them, but they are going to maintain a responsibility to secure their own networks.”

As he moves forward personally, Reitinger said “there’s great interest” in both private and public sectors in moving cybersecurity forward, and DHS has “been an exciting place to be.”

For more from Phil Reitinger, deputy undersecretary of the DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, listen to the entire interview using the player at the top of this page.