The Government Accountability Office on Wednesday gave a mixed review to the “National Strategy to Secure 5G” plan released by the administration in March. The GAO suggested more work remains to be done as the executive branch hones its approach.
The administration has faced pressure to strengthen its 5G goals in the face of perceived security threats from the Chinese government and telecom giant Huawei. “While the advent of 5G could create significant economic opportunities, it also introduces national security risks as malicious actors seek to exploit these new 5G technologies,” states the GAO in the report.
It told Congress the plan “partially addresses” five of the six goals. But one big piece is missing: the 5G strategy’s cost and details about needed “resources and investments,” reports Politico. GAO said the administration needs to help fill those in. The GAO stressed that, “national strategies are not final, but rather starting points. As such, there is room for the implementation plan to include elements from our desirable characteristics that will enable federal agencies and departments to effectively develop policies and make resource allocations that will enable the successful oversight, deployment, and use of 5G technologies in partnership with private industry.”
“5G is currently being developed and deployed within the United States— and across the world—and is considered vital to U.S. interests,” says the writers. “As a result, it is vital for the U.S. government to have a 5G strategy and implementation plan that contain enough information and details to effectively position the nation to be able to plan for and respond to the advent of 5G.”
The GAO spoke with administration officials in the Commerce Department and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “Officials we spoke to were unable to provide details on the final content of the implementation plan such as whether the plan would include all elements of our six desirable characteristics of national strategies given that it was not final,” states the GAO. National Security Council officials declined to meet with GAO or answer any questions about the interagency strategy effort, according to the report.
The White House was supposed to submit an implementation plan for this strategy to Congress by September 23, according to the “Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020,” signed into law in March. Commerce Department officials, who collected public input on developing a plan this summer, told the GAO they hope to wrap up the implementation plan by the end of this month, according to Politico.
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