As the first-ever appointed and confirmed National Cyber Director (NCD), Chris Inglis is responsible for coordinating the nation’s cyber strategy. But first, he’ll have to build out his office.

After joking that his office has “doubled in size” since the hiring of John Costello as the NCD office’s chief of staff, Inglis said during an August 19 GovernmentCIO webinar that he envisions growing the NCD office to about 75 people.

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“Much of what we will do is not going to be done so much with resources that we literally own, but rather in partnership, or helping to champion, or leverage relationships that we have elsewhere,” Inglis said.

An example Inglis gave of that work was how the NCD would help work with the Office of Management and Budget on the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), without seeking to take over the process.

“The National Cyber Directorate does not mean to replicate or compete with that process, rather we should champion and affirm that process, which we have done,” Inglis said. “And when that [TMF] money is allocated to various Federal agencies and departments, we’ll follow that money to ensure that it is applied for the purposes intended and help those agencies and departments stay the course. Then follow our mandate to report to the Congress how that money has been expended.”

The office does not yet have any appropriations for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021), so Inglis and Costello are making do with around $250,000 the White House has made available as a contingency plan, Inglis said. He said that will allow the office to hire three to four people while waiting for appropriations to kick in for FY2022.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that passed the Senate includes $21 million to fully staff and fund the office starting in FY2022. The bill has been sent to the House along with the $3.5 trillion budget resolution the chamber will take up starting August 23.

Inglis said the idea of around 75 employees is not mandated, but rather is an estimate based on “looking at those functions, what makes sense.”

“More importantly we want to enable, empower, and champion the work of hundreds of others, both in the private and the public sector,” Inglis added. “Such that, that team of teams will be considerably more capable because it has the fabric within which each of the parts makes a greater difference, as opposed to operating alone.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.