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Cybersecurity Still ‘At-Risk’ Career Field in the Federal Government

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va.

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

Cybersecurity remains an "at-risk" career field in the federal government, according to a new memo from the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management that tasks agencies with shoring up skills gaps.

OPM recently “revalidated” the need to close skills gaps in certain “high-risk mission critical occupations,” acting OPM chief Beth Cobert wrote in the memo. Those occupations include cybersecurity, acquisition and the science, technology, engineering and math fields, known as STEM.

Agency experts and chief human capital officers will work together to develop a governmentwide strategy “to address the root causes for why an occupation has been deemed ‘at risk,’” according to the memo.

Beyond those governmentwide areas, OPM tasked chief human capital officers with identifying specific skills gaps in their agencies. The memo calls on agencies to develop 4-year and 10-year plans for closing gaps in those areas.

The administration has already taken specific steps to address the lack of information security professionals. Boosting the government’s cyber workforce is a key part of the national cybersecurity action plan released by the White House in response to the massive OPM hack, which was disclosed last summer.

The Obama administration plans to publish the first-ever governmentwide cybersecurity HR strategy later this month.

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