Walter Copan, President Trump’s nominee to head the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), said during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing today that cybersecurity and the development of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will be among his top priorities for the organization if he is confirmed to the post. “I believe that the contributions that NIST has made recently with the development of the cybersecurity framework for this nation is an essential underpinning for national security and economic security,” he said. “Every day we hear more examples of the risks that our infrastructure, our data, our systems, and our corporations face. If confirmed, I look forward to leading this organization to further develop and communicate the cybersecurity framework, as well as adapting tools to the changing competitive landscape for both economic reasons as well as national security reasons.”
The role NIST will play in “understanding the allocation for spectrum and the supporting technologies” for FirstNet is also a “high-priority” for NIST, he said. “I look forward to being fully briefed on the situation and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that appropriate steps are taken,” Mr. Copan said.
In addition, he contended, NIST will play “very critical role” in the future of “spectrum utilization in this nation.”
Committee Chairman John Thune (R., S.D.) characterized Mr. Copan as “exceptionally well-qualified to serve as the director of NIST.” Mr. Thune also said he “supports” Mr. Copan’s confirmation along with those of the three nominees to other administration positions who also were included in the hearing.
“We want to move as quickly as we can to expedite the process for these nominees,” Mr. Thune said.
Mr. Copan is president and chief executive officer of IP Engineering Group Corp. and a board member of Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners. President Trump sent his nomination of Mr. Copan to the post Sept. 14 (TR Daily, Sept. 14).
During his opening statement, Mr. Copan called NIST “a cornerstone for American innovation” and said he is “first and foremost a scientist” who believes in “the power of basic research, its development and commercialization — and of standards to drive economic growth and improve our standards of living.”
Mr. Copan was asked only a few questions during the hearing, with senators focusing much of their attention on questioning Ann Marie Buerkle, who is nominated to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission; Howard Elliot, who is nominated to be administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; and Rear Admiral (Ret.) Timothy Gallaudet, who is nominated to be assistant secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere. —Jeff Williams