InsideCyberSecurity.com: Sen. Peters leads bipartisan effort on federal cyber workforce, offers bill to create ‘rotation program’ across agencies

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) is leading a bipartisan effort on bolstering the federal cybersecurity workforce with a bill to create a voluntary “rotation program,” allowing the government’s cyber employees to serve at multiple agencies and expanding both their skills and cyber expertise across government.

“Agencies across the federal government face growing cyber threats, but struggle to hire and retain qualified cybersecurity employees,” Peters’ office said in a statement, noting that the legislation unanimously cleared the Senate in the last Congress. The legislation would “help develop and retain highly-skilled cybersecurity professionals in the federal workforce,” according to the statement.

The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act is cosponsored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

According to a statement from Peters’ office:

Government agencies often cannot compete with the salaries and other benefits offered by tech giants in Silicon Valley, but they provide valuable opportunities to serve the country and defend our cyber front lines. The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act creates a civilian personnel rotation program for cybersecurity professionals at federal agencies. This program would enable employees to serve across multiple government agencies, allowing them to gain experience beyond their primary assignment and expand their professional networks. The legislation will provide opportunities to help attract and retain cybersecurity experts in the federal government by offering civilian employees opportunities to enhance their careers, broaden their professional experience, and foster collaborative networks by experiencing and contributing to the cyber mission beyond their home agencies.

The legislation authorizes agency heads to determine which cyber workforce positions are eligible for the rotation program, and submit that information to the Office of Personnel Management. Within 270 days of enactment, the OPM director is required to “develop and issue a Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program operation plan providing policies, processes, and procedures for a program for the detailing of employees among rotational cyber workforce positions at agencies, which may be incorporated into and implemented through mechanisms in existence on the date of enactment of this Act.”

The Government Accountability Office is required to report back to Congress assessing the program “Not later than the end of the third fiscal year after the fiscal year in which the operation plan” is issued.

“Recent breaches of our federal cyber infrastructure, which compromised national security, show that our government needs an integrated federal cyber workforce that has the knowledge and skills to counter increasingly sophisticated threats,” Peters said. “I am proud to reintroduce this commonsense legislation that will strengthen the federal government’s cybersecurity workforce by providing cyber employees unique professional development opportunities while they continue to serve our country.”

Hoeven said: “Our bipartisan bill will help the federal government train and retain cybersecurity professionals to meet growing demand. By developing a rotational cyber workforce program, this legislation will enable federal employees to serve across multiple government agencies and expand their skills. This is all about ensuring the federal government has the professionals needed to meet our nation’s cybersecurity challenges.”

And Rosen, who has sponsored legislation on cyber apprenticeship grant programs and other workforce bills, weighed in: “The recent and unprecedented cyber-attacks targeting U.S. government agencies and the private sector underscore the urgent need to hire and retain highly-skilled cyber professionals to defend our nation. As a strong proponent of workforce development, I’m proud to work with my colleagues to reintroduce this legislation that will strengthen our nation’s federal cyber workforce. I will continue working to ensure that our government agencies get the resources they need to hire and retain the properly trained cybersecurity experts we need to keep our nation safe.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in March pegged cyber workforce issues as one of the department’s top priorities to be addressed in an upcoming 60-day sprint. Workforce improvements were also a focus of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s 2020 report

By:  Charlie Mitchell
Source: InsideCyberSecurity.com