Donald Purdy, the cyber-security chief for the Bush administration, has come under attack over a potential conflict of interest and lack of experience.
Purdy is a legal expert who has no technical expertise in computer security. He is on loan from Carnegie Mellon University which still pays a small portion of Purdy's $577,000 annual salary, which is considerably more than his predecessor's.
Creating a conflict of interest, the cyber-security agency is paying the university $19m in contracts this year, comprising nearly one fifth of the group's total budget.
The university helps run the US Computer Emergency Response Team which informs subscribers about major virus outbreaks and other significant online threats.
Purdy's predecessor, Amit Yoran, was a cryptographer who headed up Riptech. The company was acquired by Symantec in 2002 for $145m. Yoran headed up the cyber-security group since September 2003 and abruptly resigned in October 2004.
Before him the US has a special advisor to the president on cyber-security. The position was filled by Richard Clarke who for 11 years had been a security advisor to several US presidents.
Purdy's contract is set to expire later this year, but could be extended for another two years.
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