recommended reading

Attention, Cyber Pros: The Pentagon Wants You -- 3,000 of You

Three military cyber professionals conduct an exercise during Cyber Flag 13-1, Nov. 8, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Three military cyber professionals conduct an exercise during Cyber Flag 13-1, Nov. 8, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. // US Air Force

The military has been given the go-ahead to fast-track the hiring of 3,000 computer whiz civilians, in part, to flesh out the half-staffed U.S. Cyber Command, federal officials announced Thursday.

Yesterday, command leaders told Congress they need to be able to quicker make compensation deals with prospective employees, as threats from nation state hackers mount.    

The permission slip the Office of Personnel Management signed applies to the entire Defense Department, including the command, according to a notice posted in the Federal Register.

The 5-year-old command organizes cyberattacks against adversaries and network defense operations. 

The pay scale for the new Defense positions starts at $42,399 and goes up to $132,122. Under the arrangement, the Pentagon can skip the process of rating applicants based on traditional competitive criteria. Instead, the department can offer jobs based on the candidate's unique skills and knowledge. The special qualifications include the ability to analyze malware, respond to incidents, manage cyber fire drills and detect vulnerabilities, among other things. 

The agreement also allows Cyber Command, in particular, to employ various administrative personnel "when those positions require unique cybersecurity skills and knowledge," OPM officials said. 

The hiring powers sunset Dec. 31, 2015.   

The command’s target workforce size is 6,200 personnel, Adm. Mike Rogers, the force’s chief, told Congress on Wednesday. It is unclear how the new recruitment option fits into the command's buildout plans

The White House is staffing its own new cyber policymaking unit, and last week posted a job opening for an information technology specialist. The application period for that potentially $140,000 position already has closed.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, head of the Army Cyber Command, told House Armed Services subcommittee members that "recruiting and retaining Army civilian cyber talent is challenging given internal federal employment constraints regarding compensation and a comparatively slow hiring process.”

Recruiting, relocation and retention bonuses, along with student loan reimbursements, would help lure talent to the civilian cyber workforce, he said. 

Ironically, Cyber Command may have even more trouble attracting security specialists when financial conditions brighten.

"As the economy continues to improve, we expect to see more challenges in recruiting and retaining our cyber workforce," testified Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, the top official at the Navy Fleet Cyber Command. "We are aggressively hiring to our civilian authorizations consistent with our operational needs and fully supported by the Navy’s priority to ensure health of the cyber workforce."

The Cyber Command chief appealed to lawmakers for more appropriations, in part, to deal with the workforce shortage. "Where we need help from you is with resources required to hire personnel to fill the team seats as well as necessary operational and strategic headquarters operations, intelligence, and planning staffs," he told the House members.

As of February, the Pentagon had reached the midway point of staffing Cyber Command and was backing away from the long-held held goal of deploying a full force by 2016. 

Defense officials were unavailable to comment Thursday, because a Washington-area snow storm had closed federal offices.

Threatwatch Alert

Spear-phishing

Google Chrome Update Addresses Super Sneaky URL Trick

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.