A new bill introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would push the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC), an association of university-based training organizations, to improve cybersecurity training for state and local governments.

The bill, S.333, aptly titled the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act, would authorize DHS and its National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) to work with the NCPC to provide training to first responders, conduct simulation exercises, help them develop cybersecurity information sharing programs, and incorporate cybersecurity risk into existing emergency plans. The bill would also require DHS to conduct outreach to other academic institutions to let them know about the opportunity to be involved.

The NCPC consists of partners from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M, the University of Memphis, the University of Arkansas, and Norwich University.

“Our communities must be prepared to defend against the ever-evolving cyber threats they face,” said Cornyn.

Cornyn introduced the bill back in 2017, but it failed to make its way into law. Cornyn’s home state of Texas recently hosted the Jack Voltaic 2.0 exercise, which brought military personnel in to assist local authorities in Houston.

“I have long supported the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium to educate our communities on how to defend and recover from cyberattacks. The bipartisan legislation that we are reintroducing can help to ensure continued collaboration between the cybersecurity expertise developed in our educational institutions, and our state and local governments,” said Sen. Leahy.

“Strengthening and streamlining cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium will go a long way in advancing our nation’s defense against cybersecurity risks and terrorist threats,” said Cruz.

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