May 17, 2016


Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Joaquin Castro’s (TX-20) bill to bolster our nation’s cyber defenses and keep local communities safe from attacks. Rep. Castro’s legislation, H.R. 4743, The National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act, allows non-profit entities, including universities, to work more closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address cybersecurity risks and incidents at the state and local level.
“Communities across our nation can benefit from San Antonio’s cutting-edge cybersecurity work,” said Rep. Castro. “Every day, our retailers, banks, military installations, government agencies, and everyday American citizens all face a growing number of potentially debilitating cyber threats. This bill allows the Department of Homeland Security to collaborate with experts outside of the government to improve state and local cyber preparedness. It’s critical that localities understand the impact cyber attacks could have on their ability to function, and are prepared to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from harmful cyber incidents.” 
The National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium’s (NCPC) work to improve communities’ cyber defenses served as the inspiration for Rep. Castro’s legislation. The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a leader of the NCPC. 
Specifically, this legislation would authorize DHS to work with consortiums to: 

  • Provide training, develop and update curriculum, and provide technical assistance to State and local first responders and officials specifically for preparing for and responding to cybersecurity risks and incidents;
  • Conduct cross-sector cybersecurity training and simulation exercises for entities, including State and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and private industry, to encourage community-wide coordination in defending against and responding to cybersecurity risks and incidents; 
  • Help States and communities develop cybersecurity information sharing programs for the dissemination of homeland security information related to cybersecurity risks and incidents; and
  • Help States incorporate cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response into existing State and local emergency plans. 

“This legislation allows consortiums like UTSA’s to share their cyber expertise with communities across our nation,” added Rep. Castro. “Increased collaboration will strengthen our defenses and keep us one step ahead of cyber attackers. I’m hopeful the Senate will follow the House’s lead, pass this bill, and protect the American people from a growing threat to their safety.”
The National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act also requires DHS to conduct outreach to universities and colleges, including historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions, regarding opportunities to support DHS efforts to address cybersecurity risks and incidents.
H.R. 4743 passed the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 394 to 3.