CISA head Jen Easterly and National Cyber Director Chris Inglis at their Senate confirmation hearing, June 10, 2021

CISA head Jen Easterly and National Cyber Director Chris Inglis at their Senate confirmation hearing, June 10, 2021 Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A New NAPA Report Backs a Shift in Leadership for Cyber Workforce Development

A new study from the National Academy of Public Administration recommends that the newly established Office of the National Cyber Director develop and implement a coordinated, multi-sector strategy for the cybersecurity workforce, which faces chronic workforce shortages.

There are more than a half-million open jobs in the U.S. requiring some cybersecurity expertise, and the government should do more to coordinate resources and training to expand the pipeline for those positions, according to a new, congressionally-mandated report from the National Academy of Public Administration.

The report, which was required under the terms of the 2021 appropriations bill, was designed to look at cybersecurity workforce programs at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, but ended up recommending that the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD), a new post based at the National Security Council in the White House, take charge of coordinating a multi-sector effort.  

The NAPA report indicates ONCD's central location and mandate make it a better fit to coordinate cybersecurity workforce programs as compared to CISA's Cybersecurity Defense Education and Training (CDET) program.


"Unclear mission focus has been a feature of CDET since its creation," the report states. "Changing priorities led to disruptions and reorganizations and caused key staff at senior and nonsenior levels to leave the organization, limiting CISA’s effectiveness. As a result, other agencies report challenges identifying the right CDET point of contact for questions about organizational priorities and workforce development programs."

Overall, a lack of coordination creates the risk of overlap and duplication as well as hindering the  "federal government's ability to tap the capabilities and resources in the private sector, academia, and other levels of government."

As far as current efforts by CISA to develop the cyber workforce, the panel says that the agency is meeting Congress' goals of scalability, diversity and excellence. But it will need more authorities from Congress to better partner with educational and training institutions, as well as more staff at CISA for this work. 

A CISA spokesperson told FCW that "addressing the cyber workforce shortage both within the federal government and nationwide remains a top priority for CISA. We value NAPA’s research and recommendations. We look forward to building on our current initiatives and collaborating with partners to help develop a cyber workforce of the future that’s reflective of the great diversity of our nation."

The Office of the National Cyber Director, currently led by Chris Inglis, will need resources and authority to assume these responsibilities. The report doesn't get into the weeds about what, if any, legislative changes are needed to support this new role, but states that "Congress should ensure the ONCD has the budget and performance assessment authority to lead and coordinate the programs that will develop the needed workforce, including authorities to drive agency implementation of these programs."

The scope of the problem is daunting. According to the CyberSeek database, there are nearly 600,000 cybersecurity and cybersecurity-adjacent job openings in the United States. But according to the NAPA report, "there is no governmentwide strategy for developing a national cybersecurity workforce to set priorities and focus attention and resources," despite disparate efforts among various individual agencies and programs. 

To be successful, Inglis and his team would have to address outdated and clunky hiring processes within government; an industry-wide reliance on four-year degrees and requirements for certain "excessive" levels of experience that can make it difficult for workers to enter the field. 

In the federal government, for example, efforts to reskill federal employees into cyber roles ran into problems when the program graduates couldn't be easily hired because of requirements that they have one year of experience. 

Cybersecurity hiring managers will need new ways to test the capabilities of job applicants if the field wants to move away from the strict requirements for entry, the report says. The report suggests experiential learning in education curricula or apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

The report also comments on efforts at DHS to address such challenges by building its own cyber-specific human resources system with more flexibility for hiring and pay. 

NAPA says that the program, called the Cybersecurity Talent Management System, should be quickly evaluated with an eye to expanding enhanced pay and hiring flexibility both within DHS and at other agencies. 

The report also includes recommendations on encouraging more people to enter the cyber field in the first place, with a focus on outreach to communities currently underrepresented.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.