Top government officials agree that far more cybersecurity professionals are needed to defend the nations networks and solve one of its most pressing issues: hiring and retaining a qualified cyber workforce.
But defining exactly what those roles are and what skills are needed is the challenging part.
“That’s really the issues,” said Nancy Kichak, associate director of strategic human resource policy at the Office of Personnel Management at the Executive Leadership Conference on Tuesday. “Despite the fact that we all use the terminology cybersecurity, just what does it mean? And how do you definite it, and how do you identify these special skills that the cyber workforce has?
Kichak said the government is still determining whether it can hire cyber professionals under the current pay structure and what job positions comprise the cybersecurity workforce.
OPM hopes a recent cybersecurity survey, which wrapped up this month, will help answer those questions. The survey looked at critical tasks and competencies for cybersecurity workers. The agency also led focus groups for human resource managers.
“A lot of people want to be cyber security, but do they have the right training and skills to claim the right occupation, Kichak said.”
Short term, agencies need to offer job training for the current workforce and hone their skills, said David Wennergren, assistant deputy chief management officer in the Secretary of Defense’s office.
Agencies must also attract and invest in younger talent early on by offering scholarship programs and internship opportunities, Wennergren said.
Tags: ELC 2010
The Office of Personnel Management is hosting a series of focus groups to garner solutions for beefing up the government’s cybersecurity workforce.
Starting today, OPM called on dozens of cybersecurity professionals and hiring managers to discuss strategies and best pratices for recruiting and retaining highly skilled workers. During the three-hour sessions, participants were given a list of potential solutions and asked to rank them as being the best or worst options for attracting cybersecurity workers.
Possible areas of focus include:
-Establishing a governmentwide cybersecurity certification process
-Mapping a governmentwide cybersecurity career path
-Create a new occupation definition, classification, qualification and standards
-Invest more in students
- Boost pay and use flexibilities
The focus groups are an extension of OPM’s work under the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The goal is to “ensure that federal agencies can attract, recruit and retain cybersecurity employees,” according to the NICE website.
Sessions will continue on Wednesday morning.
In case you missed my appearance last night on Capital Insider to discuss the government’s difficulties recruiting qualified Senior Executive Service candidates, here you go:
Last week, I untangled Sen. Orrin Hatch’s error-filled claims that the government has grown “at breakneck speed” under Obama. Today, let’s look a little further at what the Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act seeks to accomplish — and whether it will actually have a noticeable effect on limiting the government’s size.
The bill would require agencies (excluding the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and Executive Office of the President) to tell Congress how many employees they currently have, and how many they had as of Feb. 16, 2009. If any agencies except for the Defense and Homeland Security departments have increased in size over that time, they’ll have to cut staff through attrition until they get down to February 2009 levels.
First off, statistics very close to the numbers Hatch is looking for can be found on OPM’s FedScope site. After the jump are statistics from the Central Personnel Data File on how the cabinet-level agencies’ staffing has changed over a year. (All numbers are in thousands, and March 2010 is the most recent data available.)
Are you a hiring manager or HR official who has used the controversial Federal Career Intern Program to bring on new employees? Do you find it to be an efficient, useful hiring tool? Is it better than the standard hiring process, and if so, why? Or have you seen your office abuse its authorities to sidestep veterans preference, merit principles and hire managers’ favorites, as unions allege is frequently the case?
Federal Times is interested in hearing your impressions of FCIP — how it works, its upsides, and its downsides. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer to talk off the record, or for me to not use your name in my story, that would be fine by me.
The Office of Personnel Management tends to look askance at agencies’ requests for direct hire authority to fill critical needs. OPM asks for reams of information and has some quite specific guidelines for agencies that want to sidestep the normal federal hiring process.
The Homeland Security Department, looking to hire federal employees to fill jobs currently done by contractors as part of the government “insourcing” initiative, is trying to tweak the system a bit in order to fill critical needs, DHS chief human capital officer Jeffrey Neal said yesterday at a congressional hearing.
DHS is asking OPM for something it calls “disposable direct hire authority,” meaning that DHS would fill positions via direct hire only once — to find someone to replace a contractor employee — and then go back to the normal process. Neal said DHS is “in talks” with OPM director John Berry about this proposal, which Neal sees as an innovative way to accelerate insourcing without compromising federal hiring practices too much.
The Obama administration’s push for federal hiring reform may be a key determinant of whether the parallel push to bring certain jobs back to federal employees is successful. “It’s clear the federal hiring process is one of the obstacles” to insourcing, Neal said.
The Office of Personnel Management really pulled out all the stops at today’s event announcing President Obama’s reforms to the federal hiring process. Held in an auditorium at OPM’s E Street offices, it had the feel of a campaign event, with U2′s “Beautiful Day” playing on loudspeakers before the event as media, special guests and OPM employees took their seats.
Marvin Carraway, one of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency officers credited with stopping a gunman at the Pentagon subway station March 4, was on hand as one example of an exemplary federal employee. He got a standing ovation. OPM director John Berry, federal chief performance officer Jeff Zeints and two cabinet members were on hand.
And of course, they had Teddy Roosevelt’s desk. The trustbuster apparently used the handsome mahogany furniture when he was on the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and the desk gets rolled out whenever there’s some major civil-service reform. Berry and the rest of the gang used the desk for a quick signing ceremony, after which Berry proclaimed, “It’s done! Teddy would be proud.”
Still a little fuzzy on how these labor-management partnerships are supposed to work? You might want to sign up for new training courses that will be offered in May and June by the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
FLRA and FMCS said yesterday that the two-day training programs are meant to teach federal managers and labor representatives about bargaining rights and obligations. Day One of each session will cover bargaining rights and obligations, including pre-decisional discussions and so-called permissive subjects.
Day Two will teach you how to set up and maintain an effective labor-management forum. That includes designing the forum, setting agendas, making decisions agreeable to both parties, and other techniques.
Washington will get two training sessions in this first round — one May 25 and 26, and another June 2 and 3. Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Oakland will each get one session this time — dates and a registration form can be found here.
FLRA and FMCS plan to hold another round of training between July and September, but have not settled on the dates.
Training sessions will be free, but act fast — each session will be limited to 18 two-person teams (one manager and one labor representative). FLRA said it’s important for both parties to attend so they have a common understanding of what will be required of them.
Not much news out of this morning’s confirmation hearing for Gen. Robert Harding, President Obama’s second nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, asked him whether he’d commit to pursuing collective bargaining rights for TSA employees. Harding said he hadn’t reached a decision, and said he would talk with “TSA employees and stakeholders” before deciding whether to press the issue.
Obama’s first nominee, Erroll Southers, took a similar stance during his confirmation hearing in November, saying only that he would study the issue. But that noncommittal stance was enough to earn him a hold from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Southers eventually withdrew his nomination.
Too early to tell whether the same will happen to Harding, who has another confirmation hearing tomorrow before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs commitee.
Seems the American Federation of Government Employees wants to win the right to represent the TSA’s screening workforce: The union filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority calling for a TSA-wide election on the subject. That would be a substantial step towards collective bargaining rights for TSA employees.