November 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm #85179
Title: Cyber IN-security ; Strengthening the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce
President Obama has declared cybersecurity to be “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” Critical government and privatesector computer networks are under constant attack from foreign nations, criminal groups, hackers, virus writers and terrorist organizations.
The president’s success in combating these threats and the safety of the nation will depend on implementing a comprehensive and coordinated strategy—a goal that must include building a vibrant, highly trained and dedicated cybersecurity workforce in this country.
While the responsibility for securing our nation’s computer networks is shared by the public and private sector, our federal government must take a leadership role. That is why the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton examined the state of the federal cybersecurity workforce by interviewing experts inside and outside of government, and examining public testimony, reports and documents. The Partnership and Booz Allen held focus groups and surveyed federal chief information officers (CIOs), chief information security officers (CISOs) and human resource (HR) officials at 18 federal agencies.
The results of this research are troubling and, in many ways, familiar.
With most Americans, it would hardly set off alarms to hear that our federal workforce faces significant challenges, such as difficulty in recruiting and retaining highly skilled workers, a reliance on contractors to fill talent gaps, poor management and arcane processes that undermine employee performance, and a lack of coordination that leaves some agencies competing against one another for talent.
What should get people’s attention is the fact that these government-wide problems are particularly acute within the federal cybersecurity workforce, creating potential for major vulnerabilities for our national security.
The overriding finding of our analysis is that our federal government will be unable to combat these threats without a more coordinated, sustained effort to increase cybersecurity expertise in the federal workforce.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated that the Pentagon is “desperately short of people who have capabilities (defensive and offensive cybersecurity war skills) in all the services and we have to address it.” Our interviews confirm that this view is shared across government. Threefourths of CIOs, CISOs, IT hiring managers and HR professionals surveyed for this report said attracting skilled cybersecurity talent would be a “high” or “top” priority through the next two fiscal years.
To fill current gaps, agencies look outside government for information technology (IT) talent. For example, an official at the Department of Homeland Security estimates that 83 percent of the staff in the office of its CIO are private contractors. Government not only needs to recruit and train more people with cybersecurity expertise, it needs more people who can effectively manage the blended cybersecurity workforce.
The other key finding of our research is that numerous factors hamper government’s ability to build a top-notch cybersecurity workforce, making it difficult to fill critical talent gaps.
November 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm #85182
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