Government Report IDs the Need For Speed in Cyber Hiring

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The report from the Commerce and Homeland Security departments also urges more investment in cyber education and training.

The government’s personnel office should ease the hiring path for cyber professionals entering government and the national background checker should staff up to make sure those new cyber pros can get to work quickly, according to a federal report released Wednesday.

The White House should also work with Congress to increase funding for cybersecurity education programs, especially those that boost the federal cyber workforce, according to the report on “Supporting the Growth and Sustainment of the Nation's Cybersecurity Workforce” released by the Homeland Security and Commerce departments.

The report recommends explicit funding boosts for federal cyber programs for young people, including the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program administered by the National Science Foundation and GenCyber camp funded by NSF and the National Security Agency.

The government should expand its cyber recruiting efforts and hold more cyber competitions that develop top talent, according to the report.

Federal agencies should also harmonize cyber job descriptions and responsibilities, based on existing federal guidance, so it’s easier for cyber workers to move between agencies or in and out of government, the report states.

Those are some of the more concrete action items in the broad-ranging report, which calls for an “ambitious vision and action plan-of-attack to: ‘prepare, grow, and sustain a national cybersecurity workforce that safeguards and promotes America’s national security and economic prosperity.’”

The report was among more than a dozen called for in President Donald Trump’s May 2017 executive order on cybersecurity, several of which were released on Wednesday.

Many of the action items in the workforce report are broad goals without specific implementation plans.

The report calls, for instance, on federal and state governments to “consider providing greater financial assistance and other incentives to reduce student debt or subsidize the cost of cybersecurity education or training” and to “provide additional…tax incentives for cybersecurity-related education and training.”

The report also notes that: “the federal government should launch a vigorous effort to recruit cybersecurity workers from large and diverse pools of candidates who are underutilized or underrepresented in the cybersecurity workforce.”

In other cases, the action items are aimed at a non-government audience, such as employers, universities and K-12 schools.

For example, the report urges cyber employers to encourage more employees to serve as adjunct teachers, and urges universities and high schools to bring more cyber practitioners into the classroom.

Some main government functions will be largely inspirational, the report states, such as “leading by example to demonstrate how to identify, prioritize, and manage the cybersecurity workforce.”

Unlike another Wednesday report from Commerce and Homeland Security focused on countering botnets, the workforce report does not suggest any follow-up reports to the president on progress toward achieving goals.