U.S. Federal Agencies Start Fellowship Program to Train Cybersecurity, Technology Talent

The White House has initiated a two-year fellowship program to recruit early-career technologists with skills in software engineering, data science, cybersecurity and other critical fields to begin their profession in federal service.

The program, dubbed the U.S. Digital Corps, is a collaboration of the General Services Administration (GSA), the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Personnel Management, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Corps will be housed in the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services office.

Historically, the federal government has banked on credentials to fill out its personnel rosters. In this case, however, specific skills will take precedence with recruits gleaned not only from colleges but also from alternative resources such as apprenticeships, boot camps and certificate programs.

Federal Agencies: MSSP Opportunities Remain In Place

How will the Digital Corps program affect MSSPs fulfilling federal contracts? At first glance, stepped up cyber hiring in the federal government could lead some agencies to turn more to in-house cybersecurity talent rather than outsourced MSSP services. But amid the rapidly rising tide of cyber threats worldwide, a more likely scenario is federal agencies will continue to rely heavily on MSSPs for their expertise and expertise.

Officials said the program is intended to advance the Biden’s administration’s agenda to mute the coronavirus, promote economic recovery, buttress cybersecurity and streamline government services. The program is meant to complement existing fellowships, including the Presidential Innovation Fellows, Presidential Management Fellows and the U.S. Digital Service. To some degree the Digital Corps is reminiscent of the Job Corps of the early 1960s that provided vocational and academic training to enable youths find jobs, and the depression era Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed some three million people who helped develop state and national parks.

At its outset this fall, the Corps will kick off with 30 fellows expected to report for work in FY 2022 at more than five participating agencies, including the GSA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Fellows will be placed with agencies that map to their existing skills and interests. Mentors will guide them through a development curriculum with individual milestones. Applications for the inaugural group of fellows will open this fall. Those interested can find more information here.

“One of my priorities is building a pipeline of diverse talent to GSA and recruiting the next generation of public servants,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “The Digital Corps fellowship offers technologists just starting out in their career the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing challenges that we face and develop innovative solutions that make government work better for the American people.”

Cybersecurity Training: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Carnahan said she intends to bring to GSA talent representative of the country’s diversity, including gender, race and ethnicity. “One of my priorities is building a pipeline of diverse talent to GSA and recruiting the next generation of public servants,” she said. “The Digital Corps fellowship offers technologists just starting out in their career the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing challenges that we face and develop innovative solutions that make government work better for the American people.”

The U.S. Digital Corps program is likely to be greeted warmly by cybersecurity agencies. The federal government has struggled for some time to recruit and retain cyber talent but changes are afoot. In May, the Department of Homeland Services launched a 60-day hiring campaign to add to its cybersecurity employee roster. And, in July, lawmakers proposed the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Expansion Act that would create a pilot program to train veterans for careers in the field and establish an apprenticeship initiative at CISA.

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