The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved two bills that aim to improve the cybersecurity of K-12 education institutions and to train Federal employees to better protect supply chains.

The first measure – The K-12 Cybersecurity Act – was introduced by Senate Homeland Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., in late May. The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to complete a study of the cybersecurity risks that schools face and develop recommendations.

CISA would be required to work with other Federal agencies, schools, and private sector organizations to conduct the study that examines the cybersecurity risks schools face, as well as risks specific to remote learning. The agency would then publish a toolkit available online for K-12 students.

The second bill – the Supply Chain Security Training Act – is sponsored by Sens. Peters and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and would create a cyber training program for Federal employees responsible for purchasing services and equipment that would help them identify products that pose risks to national security.

The training program would be developed by the General Services Administration, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  OMB would also be responsible for selecting Federal employees to participate in the program and developing guidance for Federal agencies regarding the program.

“Rising cyber-attacks on everything from a major oil pipeline and hundreds of small businesses – to our federal agencies and even K-12 schools – show that we need a comprehensive, all-of-government approach to fight back against foreign adversaries and cybercriminals who persist in their attempts to infiltrate and wreak havoc on American networks,” Sen. Peters said in a statement today. “These bipartisan bills will help protect our schools and supply chains in Michigan and across the nation from hackers who seek to exploit the weakest links to steal information and hold institutions hostage.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.