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The Homeland Security Department is launching a new effort to develop and recruit the next generation of cybersecurity experts.

At a meeting with industry and small business representatives at the White House, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said the Homeland Security Advisory Council is taking steps to improve the nation’s cyber workforce.

The new task force, co-chaired by Jeff Moss, founder and director of the Black Hat and DefCon security conferences, and Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, will consider strategies that may include expanding DHS involvement in cyber competitions and university programs, enhancing public-private partnerships and working with interagency partners to develop an agile cybersecurity workforce governmentwide.

“Today we face an increasing demand for the best and brightest in the cybersecurity field across industry, academia and government,” Napolitano said. “DHS is committed to working with our partnerships at universities and throughout the private sector to develop the next generation of cyber professionals to protect against evolving cyber threats.”


NEXT GENERATION SUMMIT

Equipping young feds with the skills and savvy to pick up where more seasoned workers leave off amid sharply rising retirements is the focus of the third annual Next Generation of Government Summit, set to take place July 26 and 27 in Washington.

As in past Next Gen conferences, technology topics also will play a large role, said Steve Ressler, founder and president of GovLoop.

Abhi Nemani, director of strategy at Code for America, will offer a session on 50 technology tips that can make feds more effective at work.  Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, also will offer a lunchside chat on new technology. Attendees also can learn how to collaborate across sectors, leverage social media skills and work across generational lines.

“Technology is no longer just in the CIO shop; technology is being embedded in everything we do,” he said. “You have to know how to use those tools to be good at your job, whether you’re in HR or budget. It’s part of what you do.”

GovLoop is currently allowing its participants to vote on any of 12 “lightning speakers” to deliver five-minute presentations during the closing session of the conference.  Topics proposed by the 12 finalists range from how to become a government ninja to learning to love the bureaucracy to being a blind professional in the federal workplace.

“The retirements are up, but even more than that, agencies have fewer slots to hire,” Ressler said. “If you have three GS-14s retire and you’re hiring only one GS-9, I’d really want to make sure I have the best, most awesome GS-9 in the world. Agencies are going to need distinct pathways and training and mentorship opportunities in order to get that amazing person.”
Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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