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Peters, Hoeven Bill to Strengthen Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) to train and help retain high-skilled cybersecurity professionals in the federal government advanced in the Senate yesterday. Despite growing cyber threats, the federal government faces a cyber workforce shortage due to hiring and retention challenges, competition with the private sector and difficulty refilling federal positions after an employee leaves. The legislation passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, on which both Peters and Hoeven serve.

 “The private data of millions of Americans and sensitive infrastructural system information are the routine targets of sophisticated cyber-attacks, and it is crucial that the federal government trains and retains highly skilled personnel who can repel a wide variety of cyber threats,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “This bipartisan legislation will promote collaboration between agencies and provide pathways for federal employees to advance their careers and broaden their cybersecurity expertise.”

“Cybersecurity threats are increasing and the federal government already faces a cyber-workforce shortage,” said Senator Hoeven, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “Our legislation will help retain our existing workforce while also boosting collaboration between agencies so we are better equipped to deal with sophisticated cybersecurity threats. This is an increasingly urgent and complex issue, and we appreciate the committee advancing our legislation, so we can bring it to the full Senate for consideration.”

The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act will establish a civilian personnel rotation program for federal cybersecurity professionals at agencies that confront cybersecurity challenges. Modeled after existing Joint Duty and rotational programs across the federal government, this program would enable civilian cyber workforce employees in one agency to work in a rotational, temporary capacity in another agency to experience the federal enterprise beyond their home agency. In doing so, federal cyber professionals can develop multiagency and policy expertise on cyber threats and expand their professional networks.

During two Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearings in April, Peters questioned top DHS cyber officials about the need for cyber workforce development and the role that a rotational program could play in expanding and retaining civilian talent. Officials and academic scholars agreed that unique opportunities like a rotational program would support hiring, developing, and retaining cyber talent.