Working toward a New Information Security Relationship with the US Department of Education

min read

The US Department of Education and EDUCAUSE are exploring shared opportunities for advancing information security across higher education.

lines criss-crossing with padlocks where they join
Credit: vs148 / © 2019

Recently I received a letter written to the EDUCAUSE community from Jason Gray, the chief information officer of the US Department of Education. As you can see in the text of the letter below, Gray discusses the department's interests and concerns about the security of student aid data—interests and concerns shared by higher education IT leaders and professionals and their institutions. He expresses the department's desire to renew and strengthen its relationship with EDUCAUSE members and other relevant stakeholders to advance information security across the education sector. He suggests strategic, tactical, and operational opportunities that we might explore together, highlighting the various resources and capacities that the department can bring to such efforts.

As EDUCAUSE members and partners know, cooperation and collaboration form the foundation of virtually everything that EDUCAUSE does. I very much appreciate the department's public commitment to joint dialogue and shared efforts on information security. In many ways, this new opening reflects the next stage in a sustained effort by EDUCAUSE and the department to establish better lines of communication and a more effective understanding of our mutual security needs and interests. With the support of the department's senior leadership, Gray and his colleagues in IT and information security have been able to work with our staff and members to deepen those efforts in recent months, and we look forward to the productive results this work may generate.

I anticipate that the benefits for EDUCAUSE members will include the opportunity to consistently exchange expert knowledge and practical experience on higher education information security with the department. In turn, this will allow the department to approach security concerns with higher education institutions from a shared frame of reference. It will also enable the department to provide publicly documented compliance information that colleges and universities can reasonably implement given the challenges they face. Finally, through this collaborative dialogue, the EDUCAUSE community can develop a clearer understanding of the challenges that the department faces, allowing us to more effectively work together in our shared desire to protect students, families, and institutions.

I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions. Please review the letter, and let me know how EDUCAUSE can best support you and your institution in light of it. In the meantime, join me in congratulating the US Department of Education on this positive step.

John O'Brien's signature

letter from Department of Education. Click on image to access PDF of letter.

John O'Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.

© 2019 John O'Brien. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.