Rotating Security Staff

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation in the House and Senate on Thursday that would enable national security workers to participate in job rotations at other agencies, in hopes of breaking down government stovepipes and eliminating communication roadblocks.

The bills, introduced by Reps. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., and John Tierney, D-Mass., in the House, and Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, in the Senate, would allow federal security workers to do rotational assignments in different agencies to share expertise and best practices.

"In an ever-more complicated national security and homeland security environment, data and knowledge are now being shared across what had been bureaucratic silos," Collins said in a statement. "But our government needs to constantly look for ways to increase its efficiency and effectiveness."

The Homeland Security Department already allows some of its cybersecurity professionals to do rotational assignments with other DHS components. The Emerging Leaders in Cybersecurity Fellowship program, for example, allows employees with a master's degree to complete rotations through four components. Keri Nusbaum, program manager for DHS' cyber workforce initiative, told Wired Workplace last week that she is working with DHS' chief human capital office to determine how to build consistency in jobs so that cyber workers can also perform rotations with other agencies and the private sector.

"They can see how the private sector is operating and make recommendations if needed and just simply learn," Nusbaum said. "And it's a two-way learning environment we'd be able to create, which is a major way we could share information and work to the common goal of preventing cyber events."

But Hord Tipton, executive director of (ISC)2, said Thursday that while rotational assignments sound good on paper, they're incredibly difficult for a cybersecurity workforce that is already stretched thin. "Their supervisors and managers are going to be reluctant to train someone else's workers," he said. "We really have to work together on this, find the things that seem to be working and maximize efficiencies."

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