State law places the Texas Division of Emergency Management under A&M System
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The newest agency of The Texas A&M University System already is showing why state lawmakers and Governor Greg Abbott added more responsibility to the College Station-based system of universities and state agencies.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management officially takes its place within the Texas A&M System on Sept. 1, but when cyber-criminals unleashed a wave of malicious ransomware attacks on several small towns in Texas, the head of the emergency management agency immediately looked to System resources in the official response.
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said Wednesday that Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, a veteran of dozens of disasters and now a vice chancellor within the System, took charge and pulled together state resources and nationally recognized cyber-security experts from the Texas A&M System to address the problem.
“We can add a lot of expertise with our cybersecurity experts within the Texas A&M System who have been recognized by the FBI director as the best in the nation,” Chancellor Sharp said. “It’s just another example of something that the Texas A&M System does for the state of Texas and for the betterment of Texans.”
See a video here https://www.youtube.com/user/tamusystem/videos.
Kidd said the importance of the connection between emergency management and the Texas A&M System was evident after the ransomware attack. Save & Exit
“Had we not been part of the System, I don’t think we in emergency management would have realized the capabilities of higher education when it comes to protecting data, discovering ransomware and helping clean computer systems,” Kidd said. “We brought the Texas A&M University Cyber Security Operations Group into the Texas State Operation Center. And during this last event, they’ve been working around the clock with the Department of Information Resources, the Texas Military Department Cyber Team, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s cyber group and personnel from the Division of Emergency Management.”
Chancellor Sharp praised Kidd’s leadership in his first disaster as part of the Texas A&M System.
“You don’t ever want to go through a disaster and Nim Kidd is not there,” he said. “He is the best in the United States of America. Everybody knows it. The members of the Legislature know it. The governor knows it,” Chancellor Sharp said. “He is the most knowledgeable and best leader in a disaster that you can find in the country…period.”
Kidd said being part of the Texas A&M System will allow emergency management to more smoothly coordinate with various parts of the System, like the Health Science Center, the veterinary school and the service-minded students from the eleven universities in the System.
State legislators approved legislation this year to add an eighth agency to the System. The move came after Governor Abbott asked The Texas A&M University System and Chancellor Sharp to lead the charge with state agencies in rebuilding the state after Hurricane Harvey. System entities – particularly the state’s elite urban search and rescue team Texas A&M Task Force 1 – did such an effective job during and after the storm that the Legislature decided to streamline the way the state responds to disasters.
Under The Texas A&M University System umbrella, the Texas Division of Emergency Management joins the other agencies that include: Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX); the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES); the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI); the Texas A&M Forest Service; Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Texas A&M AgriLife Research; and the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.7 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $996 million in FY 2017 and helped drive the state’s economy.
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