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.
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Starting early next year, federal agencies will have access to telepresence centers at General Services Administration buildings across the country.
The technology will initially span across 14 GSA buildings including 11 regional offices and central offices, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson told reporters today at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va.
“People appear much more life like” and “they engage in eye contact with each other,” said Johnson about the new technologies. “The sound really works, and you feel as if you’re sitting at the same table even though you’re sitting virtually.”
The systems will be set up in rooms throughout select buildings, and services will be offered to other federal agencies using a scheduling system, she said.
Rooms will likely include three high-resolution screens, and a half-circle table with chairs designated for each screen or a stadium style seating arrangement, said Michael Robertson, GSA chief of staff. “It creates the illusion that users are at the same table. It’s the next level in video conferencing.”
Specific details about the costs and the contract amount were not readily available, but Johnson said “pricing will be such that people will think twice about getting on a plane.”
AT&T is going to manage and develop the virtual network under GSA’s Networx Enterprise contract.