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White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel admits a lack of technical expertise

By Shawn Knight ยท 20 replies
Aug 22, 2014
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  1. One might reasonably expect the White House's cybersecurity coordinator to know a thing or two about IT. But according to Michael Daniel, his lack of technical expertise actually gives him an advantage over someone with higher technical qualifications.

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  2. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,050   +1,384

    Its one thing to not be a PHD in computer science/network infastructure/etc. its another thing to not be familiar with it at all.
    TadMSTR, Satish Mallya and wastedkill like this.
  3. I agree, it's one thing to not be an expert programmer or developer, but if you dont even know what FTP is please GTFO
    Satish Mallya likes this.
  4. Kezhen Gao

    Kezhen Gao TS Booster Posts: 27   +25

    Plus how can you trust a guy with two first names?
    PC nerd likes this.
  5. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TechSpot Staff Posts: 185   +169

    Government policymaker knows nothing of the thing he is making policy for. Movie at 11.
    TadMSTR likes this.
  6. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +132

    Not a policy maker, just the coordinator. His job is to be "head of marketing" and keep government money flowing to cybersecurity so that he can pay the technical people to work. My marketing person doesn't know nearly anything I do, but she knows/thinks what I do is important to clients so she brings in money for me to do my work. If she has a question from a client, I answer it and she tells them.
  7. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,152   +1,411

    Hey Ed, how much has the legal system changed in the last 15 years? How about Economics? Many people still believe in Keynesian economics... theories that were developed based on the economy of the 20's and 30's. Compare that to technology, how much has technology changed in the last 15 years?

    Obviously technology has changed much faster, so fast in fact that anyone with the experience to lead, hasn't kept up on the day to day grind of regular work. None of the big tech moguls of today are there because they're great coders. They are there because they're great business men and women. If you're a great economist or a great lawyer you get bigger cases or more influence. When you're a great coder you eventually STOP CODING and start doing something more important like leading or deciding the direction of the department. it's why coding is so often sent offshore.

    I've spent 13 years in an IT department and the smartest and most driven people don't code for long, they become analysts, then architects, then managers and directors. coding is a starter job in the industry. If the CIO does know how to code, it's in a language that no one uses anymore anyway.

    Of course, all those reasons probably weren't even considered when this guy was given the job. This is a govt job, he got it for one of two reasons. Either
    1) This is payment for a favor he did someone once, or more probably...
    2) There's a agenda for the cyber security area and someone up top wants a lap-dog who will follow directions without asking questions. This is how our defense secretary got his job, after all, even though he couldn't answer any tough questions during his confirmation hearing.
    TadMSTR and insect like this.
  8. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    Does a coach of a professional sports team play as good as the people he coaches? there is a difference between having people do what they are supposed to do rather then you doing it for them. guidance is key.
    MilwaukeeMike likes this.
  9. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TechSpot Staff Posts: 185   +169

    Ah, but how does he pick which bits get funded? If your marketing person couldn't make a convincing use case for your product due to lack of familiarity, she wouldn't be able to do her job. How do you sell, something when you don't really understand what it does?
  10. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TechSpot Staff Posts: 185   +169

    Probably not, but that's different from not knowing about the sport at all. Show me one football coach who can't tell a touchdown from a home run.
  11. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +132

    Full quote from the source:
    "Being too down in the weeds at the technical level could actually be a little bit of a distraction," Daniel, a special assistant to the president, says in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

    "You can get enamored with the very detailed aspects of some of the technical solutions," he says. "And, particularly here at the White House ... the real issue is to look at the broad, strategic picture and the impact that technology will have."

    He never said he didn't know about the technology, just that he doesn't get into specifics. The Techspot author took liberties to make a more click-baity article.
    Satish Mallya likes this.
  12. Nilbud

    Nilbud TS Enthusiast Posts: 37   +10

    So a meeting moth promoted way beyond his competence level doesn't regard ability as necessary. What a surprise.

    "It's the same reason that you or someone you know may have been turned down from a job for being overqualified - if you stress over the details, you miss the bigger overall picture."
    A) Starbucks have hired many a Phd. there is no such thing as overqualified.
    B) Stressing details picture, what?
  13. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    In all cases, let the people who know what they are doing do their thing and you do yours. It works best that way.
  14. tekman42

    tekman42 TS Enthusiast Posts: 26   +8

    How about everyone read the mans resume as posted by the White House Blog here...http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/author/Michael%20Daniel...and be sure to read the last 2-3 paragraphs.

    It shows that a "Policy Maker" is exactly what he is, what his Credentials are and what his job has been.

    He is a Funding Guru for the Cyber Security or Intelligence apparatus as he's worked in the Intelligence field as a Funding Policy Expert all his life...but...within the Intelligence/Security sector and has Unique/Comprehensive perspective on the Cyber Security Community and further work at the OMB in policy funding.

    So yes, technically he's not the man on the ground or in the trenches...but he sure has assured all involved had funding for R&D, staffing, resource acquisition for the Intelligence Community the biggest part of his Working career in one role or another.

    Not sure what the exact requirements are for the Position he has been appointed to, but I'm pretty sure he has the Relevant information required to be there...Seen the President do a lot of mystifying things but not so much when it comes to leadership within the administration, at least not once the administration has decided on a direction.

  15. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,394   +296

    maybe Obama should send a civilian to counter ISIS moves in Iraq. or NOT.
    maybe Obama should appoint a non-IT person to investigate claims of Chinese hacking into u.s. interests. or NOT.[/quote]
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,695   +3,848

    Well, there's a bright side to this...:rolleyes: Mr. Daniel has reached his, "Peter Principal", level at which he's is no longer competent. Thus he will stay where he is.

    Luckily for us, he won't move on to say, Director of the NSA, Defense Director, or God forbid, POTUS himself.:eek:
  17. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,766   +634

    I think most in that Admin lack expertise in anything they do. Esp the guy with the big ears
  18. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    "if the attorney general didn't know squat about the legal system".

    Probably not the greatest analogy, it strikes me as being true.
    To get such a position in the first place it's not what you know, it's who you know and if RFK was still alive I'm sure he would agree.
  19. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    pretty sure he can tell a difference between say a mac and a pc. Where are your goal posts for comparison?
  20. Nima304

    Nima304 TS Evangelist Posts: 379   +123

    You can't, ever. They're weird and they must be stopped.
  21. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TechSpot Staff Posts: 185   +169

    Well, my impression was that he didn't know squat about infosec. That impression is not strong enough to justify my stance. Doesn't stop me from holding it until proven otherwise.

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