A report on the state of the federal cybersecurity workforce released on Wednesday by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service highlights that there are often good reasons for hiring contractors to fill immediate or short-term hiring needs in the federal government, or when budgetary constraints limit the number of full-time employees an agency can hire. Without an adequate pipeline of talent coming in to fill federal cybersecurity positions, the report states, the response at many agencies has been to turn to contractors to perform sensitive government information technology work, vulnerability analysis, intrusion detection, digital forensics and protocol analysis.
Still, using contractors is not risk-free, and the key to ensuring success in contracting is having the right talent inside an agency to monitor and manage the work, the report states. Bob Lavigna, vice president for research at the Partnership, said on Tuesday that the government must develop a coordinated, strategic blueprint that addresses many issues affecting the cybersecurity workforce, including the extent to which the government ought to be relying on outsourced work, especially in light of President Obama's goals to reform federal contracting. "We recognize the important role contractors play," he said, "but the challenge is the extent we rely on contractors and how best to manage the contractor workforce."