Senate Passes Bill to Allow Cyber Talent to Rotate Through Agencies

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The bipartisan legislation would allow certain cybersecurity-related personnel to rotate across various federal agencies.

A Senate bill passed unanimously Tuesday would create a civilian personnel rotation program for federal cybersecurity professionals.

The bipartisan Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act of 2019, authored by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., would establish a rotational system to allow select IT and cybersecurity professionals to apply for duty assignments of between 180 days and one year.

Under the program, existing federal tech talent would have avenues to bolster their training and experience, while smaller agencies would gain access to cyber employees who can improve their security posture.

“I’m pleased the Senate passed this bipartisan bill to help the federal government recruit and retain highly skilled cybersecurity professionals, address staffing challenges in agencies across government, and strengthen our ability to combat cybersecurity threats and secure our systems,” Peter said in a statement.

Hoeven, in a statement, said the bill expands existing employees’ opportunities while promoting “better recruitment and retention of this critical workforce.” The bill comes as the government faces stiff competition from the private sector in employing cybersecurity professionals, leading to a nascent White House effort to reskill employees and increased hiring authorities for federal executives.

The bill would direct the Homeland Security Department and Office of Personnel Management to first “develop a list of rotational cyber workforce positions” suitable for the program, which would be updated annually.

Those agencies, along with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, would—within 270 days of the bill becoming law—issue an operational plan “providing policies, processes and procedures” for the rotational program.

The bill does not yet have a House counterpart, but Senate staffers tell Nextgov they’re working on the best path forward to get House buy-in.