Report: U.S. Cybersecurity Workforce Inadequate

A few weeks ago, President Obama declared cybersecurity to be “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and said “we’re not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country.”

His words basically sum up a new report by a nonprofit organization that calls on his administration to quickly and significantly improve the quality and quantity of the federal cybersecurity workforce.

“Critical government and private sector computer networks are under constant attack from foreign nations, criminal groups, hackers, virus writers and terrorist organizations,” said the report, published by the Partnership for Public Service and the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton.

The report outlines four primary challenges it says threaten the quality and quantity of the cybersecurity workforce.

»There are not enough qualified applicants for federal cybersecurity jobs.

»The government’s approach to cybersecurity is fragmented and uncoordinated.

»The “notoriously cumbersome hiring process” that affects all of government also hinders the cybersecurity workforce.

»Front-line hiring managers are frequently more dissatisfied with cybersecurity hiring efforts than are their peers in human resources. And many front-line hiring managers and human resources managers are dissatisfied with the level of collaboration with Office of Personnel Management.

To deal with these problems, the report offered several suggestions:

»The cybersecurity czar the White House plans to appoint “should develop a government-wide strategic blueprint for meeting current and future cybersecurity employment needs” and work closely with OPM and other agencies to implement the plan.

»The White House should lead a nationwide effort to steer more U.S. citizens into math, science and technology. Congress should fund the expansion of scholarship programs for students in computer science and cybersecurity.

»Government officials should update job classifications for cybersecurity functions and establish certification requirements for the positions.

»Using the new job classifications, OPM should map cybersecurity career paths starting at the entry level.

»Agencies should develop a corps of managers to lead a multi-sector cybersecurity workforce.

By Eric Rich  |  July 22, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  | Category:  Computer security , Hiring , Office of Personnel Management
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