A new report issued Thursday by the successor of the congressionally chartered Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), called CSC 2.0, is calling on the Office of the National Cyber Director and Congress to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.
Although the CSC’s government-chartered work ended at the end of 2021, the group has since transitioned to a non-profit organization housed under the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
The report calls on National Cyber Director Chris Inglis to coordinate Federal support for national cyber workforce development, as well as Congress to take action to grow the cyber workforce and support Federal efforts.
Top-line recommendations include improving the cyber workforce data collection and evaluation efforts. The Federal government lacks reliable data on its cyber workforce, leaving data siloed within agencies and making it difficult to know just how many cyber professionals are working in the Federal government.
Another recommendation is to get rid of degree- and experience-based requirements for cyber positions to attract more talent.
“These requirements are unnecessarily constraining in a field where associate’s degrees, industry certifications, and other informal education are both common and valued, and where demonstrations of experience come in vastly different forms and timelines,” the report says. “They also compound the challenge of promoting diversity in the Federal workforce by steering hiring toward graduates of STEM degree programs, which also struggle with diversity.”
Additionally, the report recommends higher pay for Federal cyber professionals to better compete with the private sector. The report recommends Inglis and Congress work to authorize cyber-excepted service authorities government-wide.
“This option would maximize the Federal government’s flexibility in hiring and managing cyber talent, by creating systems built for the cyber workforce,” the report says. “Such an approach could dramatically improve the Federal government’s ability to attract and retain self-taught talent, community college graduates, and the many public service-minded professionals for whom the greatest recruitment incentive is the ability to constantly develop and improve their skills but who cannot justify the pay cut that leaving the private sector would entail.”
The report referenced the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Talent Management System (CTMS), as well as similar hiring authorities for the Department of Defense.
Outside of those two agencies, it can be difficult to use cyber-specific hiring authorities. CSC 2.0 said it hopes revamping cyber hiring authorities and pay flexibilities government-wide will serve as “powerful tools” to strengthen the workforce.