OMB Pursues an Enhanced Cybersecurity Workforce

Published: August 10, 2016

CybersecurityIT WorkforceOMB

Federal IT leaders are looking to turbocharge their cybersecurity workforce through a new workforce development plan.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced last month a new Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy that seeks to address the shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel within the federal government and beyond.

Cybersecurity professionals in federal agencies are entrusted with a multifaceted mission – a protecting government information technology (IT) systems, networks, and data from sophisticated and diverse adversaries; safeguarding sensitive and personal data; securing critical infrastructure and intelligence systems; and supporting national financial, health, energy, and transportation systems.

All too often, though, federal efforts to maintain a robust cybersecurity workforce has been much less than desired, leading to sometimes disastrous results. Such failings led federal leaders to pursue immediate and broad-sweeping efforts to address the growing cybersecurity workforce shortage and establish a pipeline of well-qualified cybersecurity talent.

Last year’s Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) for federal civilian agencies called for OMB and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to formulate a more comprehensive Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy and set out potential actions within the areas below to help recruit, develop, and maintain a ready supply skilled cybersecurity talent to address complex and ever-evolving cyber threats:

  1. Identify Cybersecurity Workforce Needs – Improving the government-wide understanding of the cybersecurity workforce by identifying key capability and capacity gaps in order to enhance workforce planning;
  2. Expand the Cybersecurity Workforce through Education and Training – Working with educational institutions, professional organizations, training organizations, and other experts on cybersecurity program guidance from P-12 through university-level education to significantly expand the pipeline of skilled cybersecurity talent available for the Government and beyond;
  3. Recruit and Hire Highly Skilled Talent – Engaging in government-wide and agency-specific efforts to expand the cybersecurity workforce through recruitment of highly-skilled talent, and streamlining the hiring and security clearance process while still meeting applicable law and standards; and,
  4. Retain and Develop Highly Skilled Talent – Promoting an enterprise-wide approach to retention and development to support the continued enhancement of the cybersecurity workforce.

The Strategy proposes some new approaches to address persistent federal workforce challenges, recognizing that these and other changes will require time to implement. In parallel, OMB’s immediate focus is on training and retaining their existing talent while stepping up their recruiting efforts.