WASHINGTON–The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Tuesday held a hearing on the nomination of Rand Beers to be Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

If confirmed, Beers would have a key role in cyber security issues through the NPPD’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Responding to questions from Lieberman and Collins, he affirmed that the soon-to-be-appointed “cyber czar” within the White House would be responsible for coordinating cyber security among federal departments, but would not have operational authority, which would remain with the departments.

“Mr. Beers is an experienced and highly-qualified public servant of long standing,” Lieberman said. “If confirmed, he will need to apply his wealth of experience to provide vision for the National Protection and Programs Directorate and the broad range of challenges it faces.”

Collins said, “The scope and importance of the NPPD’s responsibilities are daunting, including the critical and complex task of protecting the nation’s cyber networks. The complexity arises not just from the technical nature of the issue, but from the disjointed approach the federal government has taken. DHS’s relationships with the critical infrastructure sectors that both provide for and rely on information technology services will remain invaluable in ensuring a coordinated defense against cyber attacks. Should Mr. Beers be confirmed, this is just one of the many critical challenges awaiting his leadership and expertise.”

Beers has been in public service for over 30 years, serving both Democratic and Republican administrations in national security roles. Most recently, he has played a key role as a counselor to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and was Acting Deputy Secretary before Deputy Secretary Jane Lute’s nomination.

The NPPD is the primary division within DHS responsible for risk reduction and oversees infrastructure protection, in addition to cyber security and other areas.

Beers must next be reported out of the Committee before the full Senate can vote on his confirmation.