President Trump on Thursday, May 3, signed a new executive order to build and develop the federal government’s cybersecurity workforce.
The order ranges from initiatives to close the feds’ cybersecurity jobs gap, which the government pegged at 300,000 unfilled positions, to measures to improve the skills of associated workers. While one step enables workers at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency to rotate among various agencies to broaden their cybersecurity skills portfolio, another creates the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition to improve staffers’ cybersecurity capabilities in both the public and private sectors.
“More than 300,000 cybersecurity job vacancies exist in the United States today,” Trump said in a statement. “They must be filled to protect our critical infrastructure, national defense, and the American way of life.”
The rotational program reflects a newly-signed bipartisan Senate bill, Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act of 2019, that establishes a system for select IT and cybersecurity professionals to apply for assignments of between one-half to one year.
"United States Government policy must facilitate the seamless movement of cybersecurity practitioners between the public and private sectors, maximizing the contributions made by their diverse skills, experiences, and talents to our Nation," the order said.
The order further establishes the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Awards to recognize K-12 educators teaching cybersecurity-related content. And, it creates a new program to acknowledge staffers who have made noteworthy contributions in cybersecurity. In addition, the order urges widespread adoption of the cybersecurity workforce framework created by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education for identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining cybersecurity talent.
“America built the internet and shared it with the world; now we will do our part to secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations,” Trump said.
Here are the specifics of the executive order:
- Promote cybersecurity work within the government, including through a new President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition.
- Develop a rotational program where federal employees can expand their cybersecurity expertise through temporary reassignments to other agencies.
- Encourage widespread adoption of the NICE cybersecurity workforce framework for identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining cybersecurity talent.
- Close the cybersecurity skills gaps for the cyber-physical systems that our defense and critical infrastructure rely on.
- Identify cybersecurity aptitude assessments that they can use to reskill employees with potential in the cybersecurity field.
- Establish the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Awards, recognizing excellent elementary and secondary school educators teaching cybersecurity-related content.
The feds have allocated $11.4 million to fund development of the Cyber Talent Management System that will enable the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “recruit and retain rare, valuable cybersecurity talent,” according to the agency’s budget outline for fiscal 2020. The system is set to rollout later this year. DHS intends to hire at least 150 new cybersecurity staffers using the new system by the end of FY 2020.
The new talent management system is part of a White House reorganization plan to set a uniform set of standards to recruit, hire, train, retain, and compensate cybersecurity personnel across agencies. Previously, each federal department and agency was responsible for addressing its own cybersecurity workforce gaps. The hiring program focuses on cybersecurity capabilities, continuous development and refreshing of those capabilities and recognizing that mission needs and talent shifts occur across DHS, resulting in the ability to move individuals around seamlessly.