The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report that the Coast Guard needs to implement a range of better practices to manage its cybersecurity workforce needs.

Central to the GAO’s recommendations are its findings that the Coast Guard – which is a component agency of the Department of Homeland Security – has failed to adhere to its own guidance of employing its “Manpower Requirements Determination” process to assess and determine necessary staffing levels and skills to meet mission needs.

GAO said the Coast Guard has not used that process “for a large portion of its cyberspace workforce.”

“For example, as of February 2022, the Coast Guard had not used this process for three headquarters units that collectively represent 55 percent of its cyberspace workforce positions,” the watchdog agency said.

“Until such analysis is completed, the Coast Guard will not fully understand the resources it requires, including those to protect its information systems and data from threats,” GAO said.

The report features six recommendations, all of which DHS concurred with:

  • The Coast Guard should assess and determine the staffing levels needed to meet its cyberspace mission demands;
  • The Coast Guard should establish a strategic workforce plan for its cyberspace workforce, to include strategies and implementing activities to address all competency and staffing needs;
  • The Coast Guard should incorporate data from the Cyber Mission Specialist rating to inform its strategic workforce planning for the enlisted cyberspace workforce;
  • The Coast Guard should develop metrics for recruitment of enlisted and all civilian cyberspace personnel, and use these metrics to assess the effectiveness of its recruitment and hiring efforts;
  • The Coast Guard should set and quantify retention goals and objectives for its cyberspace workforce; and
  • The Coast Guard should establish and track metrics of success for improving cyberspace personnel morale, and report progress.

“By fully implementing these leading practices, the Coast Guard could better manage its cyberspace workforce,” GAO said.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.