President Trump today signed an executive order to expand the American cybersecurity workforce through initiatives such as a standard aptitude assessment for agencies to identify workers with cyber retraining potential, an interagency rotational program, a President’s Cup Cybersecurity competition, and a presidential award for elementary and secondary school instructors.
The President’s Cup initiative is still in the planning phase and implementation isn’t expect to begin for at least a couple of months, according to a senior administration official who spoke to reporters this afternoon on background.
The executive order declares the “America’s cybersecurity workforce” to be “a strategic asset that protects the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life” and states that the U.S. government “must enhance the workforce mobility of America's cybersecurity practitioners to improve America's national cybersecurity. … [to] facilitate the seamless movement of cybersecurity practitioners between the public and private sectors, maximizing the contributions made by their diverse skills, experiences, and talents to our Nation.”
It also states that the government should “support the development of cybersecurity skills and encourage ever-greater excellence so that America can maintain its competitive edge in cybersecurity” and “create the organizational and technological tools required to maximize the cybersecurity talents and capabilities of American workers.”
The executive order directs the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, to deliver to the president within 90 days a report on the cybersecurity rotational assignment “that describes the proposed program, identifies its resource implications, and recommends actions required for its implementation.”
The executive order also directs the General Services Administration, in consultation with OMB and the Commerce Department, to incorporate the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (NICE Framework) “lexicon and taxonomy into workforce knowledge and skill requirements used in contracts for information technology and cybersecurity services” and report to the president within one year on their work to that end, its effectiveness, and “recommendations to increase the effective use of the NICE Framework by United States Government contractors.”
It directs OPM, the Commerce, DHS, and “other agencies as appropriate” to identify within 180 days “a list of cybersecurity aptitude assessments for agencies to use in identifying current employees with the potential to acquire cybersecurity skills for placement in reskilling programs to perform cybersecurity work. Agencies shall incorporate one or more of these assessments into their personnel development programs, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.”
It directs agencies to include cybersecurity and cyber-operational performance and achievement among the areas recognized by “existing awards and decorations for the uniformed services and civilian personnel.”
DHS, in consultation with the Defense Department, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, OMB, and “other appropriate agencies,” are tasked with developing “a plan for an annual cybersecurity competition (President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition) for Federal civilian and military employees. The goal of the competition shall be to identify, challenge, and reward the United States Government's best cybersecurity practitioners and teams across offensive and defensive cybersecurity disciplines. The plan shall be submitted to the President within 90 days of the date of this order. The first competition shall be held no later than December 31, 2019, and annually thereafter.”
The plan should address the “extent to which agencies, as well as uniformed services, may develop a President's Cup awards program that is consistent with applicable law and regulations governing awards and that allows for the provision of cash awards of not less than $25,000.”
In a statement, President Trump said, “More than 300,000 cybersecurity job vacancies exist in the United States today. They must be filled to protect our critical infrastructure, national defense, and the American way of life. These jobs represent an incredible economic opportunity for America’s workers — and my Administration is working to ensure they have the skills they need to seize it.”
In a joint statement, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D., Miss.) and cybersecurity, infrastructure protection, and innovation subcommittee Chairman Cedric Richmond (D., La.) said, “We have known for some time that the national and global demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals was quickly outpacing supply. These are the cybersecurity experts who stand on the front lines protecting our critical infrastructure, Federal agencies, and our most sensitive data.”
They added, “As Chairmen of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation, we have been urging the Administration to take this threat seriously for some time, and hope today’s Executive Order signals the start of a real national effort to grow and diversify the cyber talent pipeline. We plan to hold the Administration accountable to the commitments it has made in today’s Executive Order. In the meantime, the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation will hold a hearing focused on building a more robust cyber talent pipeline on May 21.”
Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.), ranking minority member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued a statement applauding the executive order.
“I am pleased that President Trump recognizes the need to address our federal government’s shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals and safeguard our nation against serious cyber threats. I have been proud to lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to create incentives to attract highly skilled cyber professionals to public service, and I am grateful for the President’s support of this vital effort to strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity. This program is an important first step to help minimize our cybersecurity vulnerabilities, fortify our existing networks and systems, and build new and innovative infrastructure that puts safety and security front and center. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in the House to get my bill signed into law so this program can strengthen our cybersecurity workforce for years to come,” Sen. Peters said.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said, “It’s essential that the federal government has experts in place to thwart ever-evolving cyber threats and prevent cyberattacks from harming the safety and privacy of Granite Staters and Americans. I am pleased that the President took this step to bolster our federal cybersecurity workforce and support our bipartisan efforts in Congress to help the federal government attract and retain highly-skilled cybersecurity professionals. I’ll keep working across party lines to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses and to help ensure that all Granite Staters and Americans are safe, secure, and free.”
Jason Oxman, president and chief executive officer of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) said, “Staying ahead of the evolving cyber threat requires a clear strategy implemented by a robust and skilled team of cyber experts. President Trump’s executive order is an important step to bolster the cyber workforce of the United States government and the nation, which will better enable government and industry to help ensure U.S. networks are secure and resilient. We look forward to working with the administration to strengthen our ongoing public-private engagement to advance U.S. cybersecurity.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
MainStory: FederalNews Cybersecurity
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