As the Washington Post explains (via Slashdot), this appointment will fulfill Obama’s seven month old promise to bring on an adviser specifically to coordinate on issues of security as relates to computer and network infrastructure across the federal government. Schmidt at least has some prior experience, advising the George W. Bush administration.
Many have already commented on this White House post, noting that it is largely fang-less. At least the Washington Post sheds some light as to the possible reason, some disagreement about the org chart. Since the role is not just meant to work on government systems but includes in its purview overseeing the security of our national network infrastructure, I guess putting it under national security makes sense. However, a White House adviser also wants the so-called cyber-security czar to report to him as well, arguing that oversight of the network will also have ramifications for the nation’s economy.
Bruce Schneier pretty much sums it up, explaining why so many luminaries like himself and Gene Spafford would have turned down the appointment if they had been approached. It really is puzzling that the mandate is so aggressive but the power to support it is utterly lacking. As Bruce says, perhaps Obama will rectify that once Schmidt is installed.