Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy says that DoD is actively pursuing top talent for its cyberspace operations command.
“We must continue to recruit and retain a workforce that not only continues to serve our country but understands that our work is like no other,” he said Thursday during the 9th annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, D.C. “We cannot do this alone. The fundamentals of all this are the people.”
Deasy’s remarks come as the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) uses a special hiring authority to drastically expedite and simplify its hiring and recruitment practices. The Cyber Excepted Service (CES) was authorized in 2016 as part of the National Defense Act. Deasy said that the CES had smoothed DoD’s hiring process while offering market-competitive pay to quality candidates.
“How do we think about what the next future leaders of the department are going to look like?” he asked. “How do we create a curriculum that not only creates cyber workforce warriors of the future but also gets them to understand the depth and breadth of threats facing us?”
The CES authority lets USCYBERCOM hiring managers make on-the-spot job offers outside the federal government’s typical occupational constraints. Major talent is recruited faster using a market-based pay structure that is competitive with private sector work.
USCYBERCOM conducted its first-ever public hiring event using CES abilities on May 8, 2018, with more than 400 people attending event in Silver Spring, Md. USCYBERCOM hiring managers screened more than 300 resumes before conducting 70 same-day interviews and making 18 on-the-spot job offers.
The Air Force Personnel Center partnered with USCYBERCOM for the event, and both organizations also teamed up for a May 23, 2018 community job fair in Fort Meade, Md. USBYBERCOM has three more recruiting drives planned for 2018: One at the San Antonio CyberTexas Job Fair on Aug. 14, another Fort Meade event on Sept. 12 and an Oct. 9 event at the Cyber Maryland Job Fair in Baltimore.
Deasy said Thursday that DoD considers its national security focus critical for attracting cybersecurity professionals.
“Working at DoD is a calling,” he said. “It is a mission and it is simply captivating. All you must do is walk the halls of the Pentagon to see what it’s all about. It’s so inspirational.”
Deasy added that DoD sees a separation between potential recruits who came of age before the digital era, and those who did so afterwards.
“Everyone has absolute consensus on the fact that we’re growing up in the era of digital natives,” he said, referencing those entering adulthood after the internet’s creation.
The CES permits agile, flexible recruitment and hiring under such Title 5 safeguards as appeal rights, attained career status, federal benefits, protections, performance management and retirement. The program aims at enhancing DoD’s cyber defense capabilities.
Deasy said a strong cyber workforce is crucial for reaching such DoD focus areas as cloud adoption, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), modernizing C3 communications systems and hardening cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity is a lot like driving your car,” he said. “As with driving, cyber threats are often unknown and unforeseen. Cyber crashes are often devastating. The integration of cloud, artificial intelligence and C3 will only be possible in a robust cybersecurity environment.”
This is huge in the world of government hiring. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. This looks like a model that could be beneficial for other occupations and across government.