The federal government is finally getting a sense of the size, shape and skills of its cybersecurity workforce.
“Preliminary analysis” of a new database of all cyber jobs governmentwide, which went live in January, indicates employees doing cybersecurity work hail from more than 100 different job categories scattered across agencies.
In other words, it just might take a village to do cybersecurity in the federal government.
The new information about the cyber database comes from a Feb. 27 report to Congress from the White House on the implementation of the 2002 E-Government Act.
The report did not provide specifics on the total size of the federal cyber workforce. It’s also unclear if the cyber database, which is hosted by the Office of Personnel Management, will be open to public view. It’s not readily visible on OPM’s website, and an agency spokesman did not immediately respond to Nextgov’s request for more information.
The Obama administration has pushed agencies over the past two years or so to tally up the total number of employees engaged in cybersecurity work to “assist and inform federal decision-makers in their efforts to improve and strategically target their employment and career development programs for this uniquely essential workforce community,” the new report stated.
Previous efforts to compile a full roster of government cyber employees were stymied by the fact that, unlike with other federal professions, there’s no federalwide job description for cybersecurity or a single job category to encompasses all cyber work.
Creating a new cybersecurity job category would have made it easier to pinpoint the exact size of the federal cyber force. But it also risked locking the government into a static definition that might quickly become outdated or irrelevant.
So, the administration had taken a middle ground approach: re-indexing jobs that have any kind of cyber bent (in whatever job categories they currently fall under) according to the broad outlines of a framework developed by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.
It remains to be seen just how reliable the database’s information will be. About one-fourth of agencies missed a deadline last September to report information about their cyber workers because of software problems, officials said at the time.
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