The Department of Homeland Security initially expected its Cyber Talent Management System to net 150 offers in its first fiscal year.

The Department of Homeland Security initially expected its Cyber Talent Management System to net 150 offers in its first fiscal year. Andrew Brookes / Getty Images

DHS Cyber Talent Management System Boasts Just 80 Hires After Nearly Two Years

Integrating the new hiring acquisition system across the Department of Homeland Security has “been a real project,” said the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency testified on Thursday that the federal government has hired approximately 80 employees through the Cyber Talent Management System, a platform that was seven years in the making and officially launched nearly two years ago.

The long-awaited hiring platform boasts a streamlined application process and positions with high-paying salaries, but has struggled to successfully onboard new employees since it first went live in November 2021, as FCW previously reported. The Department of Homeland Security was hoping to use the talent acquisition system to make 150 offers in its first fiscal year, but instead made just 21 hires during that time.

CISA Director Jen Easterly told the House Homeland Security Committee that implementing the CTMS across the DHS community has "been a real project," though she noted that the system has brought "extraordinary talent" to her agency.

"I think we're at about 80 people with the cyber talent management system," said Easterly. "We are hoping to use CTMS more aggressively this year."

The CTMS hiring count is especially low when considering CISA’s recruitment efforts over the last year. Easterly said the agency hired 516 people last year and was on pace to exceed that in 2023. While the CTMS does not include every available position within the agency, instead focusing exclusively on cyber-related jobs, DHS expected nearly 1,000 of the previously reported 1,500 internal vacancies to fit into the CTMS platform. 

Easterly described CISA’s recruitment efforts as “a real success story,” adding that the agency plans to focus on retention efforts after continuing to increase the size of its workforce. Other agencies have expressed concerns that DHS' hiring platform forces the department to compete with federal agencies for top cyber talent, in addition to the private sector, which can offer higher-paid salaries and other benefits. 

"The inequities that exist in the hiring of cyber and IT talent across the federal government, the loss of people from one agency to another, it is the true angst that we hear from our [Chief Human Capital Officer] community," said Kiran Ahuja, director of the Office of Personnel Management, at an event last year. "DHS can pay for more for cyber talent, leaving other agencies at a competitive disadvantage."

CISA isn't the only organization struggling to recruit cyber talent. Federal agencies and private sector entities have all launched their own measures in recent years to address the talent gap. Some reports suggest 3.4 million skilled cybersecurity professionals are needed to fill positions around the world, a figure that has doubled since 2019. 

The Office of the National Cyber Director is expected to finalize a cyber workforce strategy later this year. 

“At the end of the day, this is really about collective cyber defense,” said Easterly about addressing cyber workforce issues. “We need to work together hand in hand.”