U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seeks to Fill 1,500 Cybersecurity Positions

The Department of Homeland Security has opened a new personnel system to augment its ability to recruit, develop and retain entry and expert-level cybersecurity professionals.

The Cybersecurity Talent Management System (CTMS) will enable DHS to fill mission-critical cybersecurity positions by screening applicants based on demonstrated competencies, competitively compensating employees, and to streamline the hiring and onboarding process, the agency said. Those hired through the CTMS system will sign on to the DHS Cybersecurity Service, a group focused on securing the nation’s critical infrastructure.

DHS currently has around 1,500 cybersecurity-related vacancies, a senior DHS official told reporters ahead of the announcement. About two-thirds would likely fit into the CTMS, the official said. The agency’s goal is to hire 150 people for priority roles in 2022 initially to fill open positions at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the chief information officer’s station, in roles ranging from entry to expert levels, the official said. (via The Hill)

DHS, MSSPs and Federal Security Contracts

The CTMS comes at a time when cybersecurity professionals are in great demand and can command healthy salaries. How will DHS’ hiring plans 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 that federal agencies will continue to rely heavily on MSSPs for their expertise and expertise.

It’s clear that DHS considers the CTMS as not just an overhaul of its employment processes but also as a major change in how it thinks about staffing vacancies. Indeed, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that the CTMS “fundamentally re-imagines how the Department hires, develops, and retains top-tier and diverse cybersecurity talent. As our nation continues to face an evolving threat landscape, we cannot rely only on traditional hiring tools to fill mission-critical vacancies.”

Salary for CTMS positions will be based on “market sensitive pay grade,” the DHS official said, which suggests that the agency intends to offer salaries commensurate with what cybersecurity pros could earn working in the private sector. The CTMS salary range tops out at $255,800 in 2021, and under certain circumstances the upper limit can be extended to $332,100 in 2021.

DHS is currently recruiting for a range of cybersecurity-related jobs, including incident response, risk and strategic analysis, vulnerability detection and assessment, intelligence and investigation, networks and systems engineering, digital forensics and analysis and software assurance.

DHS Takes Multiple Steps to Fill Cybersecurity Positions

The CTMS is one of a number of separate programs DHS is running to hunt for qualified cyber candidates. In July, DHS on-boarded 300 cybersecurity professionals recruited from what the agency called its largest hiring initiative in history, resulting in some 500 tentative job offers. The hiring spree was part of a 60-day “workforce sprint” begun in May to help boost diversity among the agency’s ranks. The Department said the initiative enabled it fill 12 percent of some 2,000 cybersecurity vacancies.

DHS is also operating an Honors Program beginning with an initiative to recruit recent graduates with degrees in cybersecurity-related fields for a one-year professional development program at the agency.

In September, the White House 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, CISA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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.

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