September 22, 2021

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Commemorating the International Day of Democracy 

14 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On this International Day of Democracy, we underscore our support for democracy as we strive toward a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable world.

The United States places democracy and human rights at the center of our foreign policy; they are essential elements in achieving and sustaining peace and stability the world over. Our commitment is firm and grounded in our own experience as a democracy—imperfect, but continuously striving for a more perfect union. We know that free and democratic societies have healthier citizens, less violent conflict, and more prosperous communities. Indeed, democracy delivers for the many, not the few.

To demonstrate that democracy best addresses the greatest challenges of our time, President Biden will bring together government, civil society, and private sector leaders from a diverse group of the world’s democracies at a virtual Summit for Democracy this December.  As the President has said, “…we must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.”

A thriving democracy also depends on open and vibrant civic space, in which people – all people – can advocate for their rights and hold the government to account with equal rights and without discrimination. The rule of law, free and fair elections, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press are cornerstones of a healthy democracy and the right of all.

Whether heading to the polls to vote, exposing corruption, or peacefully rallying around a common cause, people in every corner of the globe bring to life the basic tenets of democracy every day.  On this Day of Democracy, we recognize that these efforts are critical to defend, strengthen, and renew democracy.

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National Cyber Strategy and Implementation Plan are Missing Desirable Characteristics of a National Strategy Characteristic Cyber Strategy and Plan Coverage of Issue Purpose, scope, and methodology Addressed Organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination Addressed Integration and implementation Addressed Problem definition and risk assessment Did not fully address Goals, subordinate objectives, activities, and performance measures Did not fully address Resources, investments, and risk management Did not fully address Source: GAO analysis of 2018 National Cyber Strategy and 2019 Implementation Plan . | GAO-20-629 For example, the Implementation Plan details 191 activities that federal entities are to undertake to execute the priority actions outlined in the National Cyber Strategy. These activities are assigned a level, or tier, based on the coordination efforts required to execute the activity and the extent to which NSC staff is expected to be involved. 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However, without a clear central leader to coordinate activities, as well as a process for monitoring performance of the Implementation Plan activities, the White House cannot ensure that entities are effectively executing their assigned activities intended to support the nation's cybersecurity strategy and ultimately overcome this urgent challenge. Increasingly sophisticated cyber threats have underscored the need to manage and bolster the cybersecurity of key government systems and the nation's cybersecurity. The risks to these systems are increasing as security threats evolve and become more sophisticated. GAO first designated information security as a government-wide high-risk area in 1997. This was expanded to include protecting cyber critical infrastructure in 2003 and protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information in 2015. In 2018, GAO noted that the need to establish a national cybersecurity strategy with effective oversight was a major challenge facing the federal government. GAO was requested to review efforts to protect the nation's cyber critical infrastructure. The objectives of this report were to (1) describe roles and responsibilities of federal entities tasked with supporting national cybersecurity, and (2) determine the extent to which the executive branch has developed a national strategy and a plan to manage its implementation. To do so, GAO identified 23 federal entities responsible for enhancing the nation's cybersecurity. Specifically, GAO selected 13 federal agencies based on their specialized or support functions regarding critical infrastructure security and resilience, and 10 additional entities based on analysis of its prior reviews of national cybersecurity, relevant executive policy, and national strategy documents. GAO also analyzed the National Cyber Strategy and Implementation Plan to determine if they aligned with the desirable characteristics of a national strategy. GAO is making one matter for congressional consideration, that Congress should consider legislation to designate a leadership position in the White House with the commensurate authority to implement and encourage action in support of the nation's cybersecurity. GAO is also making one recommendation to the National Security Council to work with relevant federal entities to update cybersecurity strategy documents to include goals, performance measures, and resource information, among other things. The National Security Council neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Nick Marinos at (202) 512-9342 or marinosn@gao.gov.
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