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Homeland Security to Fast Track Hiring of up to 1,000 New Cyber Personnel

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va // Evan Vucci/AP

The Department of Homeland Security plans to fast track the hiring of up to 1,000 new cybersecurity personnel by June, according to a notice set to be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.

Positions OK’d by the Office of Personnel Management for special Schedule A hiring authority include personnel with job duties including:

  • Cyber risk and analysis;
  • Cyberincident response, including analyzing malware and other vulnerabilities;
  • Detecting and assessing cyber vulnerabilities; and
  • Intelligence analysis, among other areas.

The streamlined hiring covers positions at the GS 09-15 levels.

Legislation approved by Congress last year allows DHS to speed the hiring of cyber experts, to set rates of basic pay, and to provide additional compensation, benefits, incentives, and allowances -- all perks previously extended to the Pentagon to help boost the size of its information security workforce.

In March, the Defense Department was granted fast-track hiring authority of up to 3,000 personnel to build up military cyber teams.

It’s unclear if the planned new hires will staff a particular office at DHS. Nextgov has requested comment from DHS. The agency is currently reorganizing and considering renaming the directorate responsible for most of its cybersecurity mission, now called the National Protection and Programs Directorate.

This isn’t the first time DHS has been granted fast-track hiring authority to grow its cyber workforce. DHS also received permission to make direct hires in 2009 to onboard an additional 1,000 cyber experts.

Some experts, however, are critical of that past hiring blitz.

DHS used the expanded hiring authority to fill regular IT positions instead of truly mission-critical occupations, Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute who helped lead a 2012 task force on the agency’s cyber workforce, has argued in the past. 

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