WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense is evaluating how its 225,000-member cyber workforce can transition more easily to and from civilian industry, gaining new skills and fresh perspectives, spurring defense innovation in the process. I’m playing
The Department of Defense’s 2023-2027 Cyber Workforce Strategy, released this week, includes four “human capital pillars”: talent identification, recruitment, skills development, and talent retention. Implementing it will require close interaction with the tech industry and an unprecedented level of cross-pollination, officials said.
The strategy, which supports the Biden administration’s national cybersecurity blueprint, calls for cooperation within and outside government, academia, and allies, and includes a talent exchange pilot project. The ministry said these “engagements” need to be prioritized and resources allocated to ensure mutual benefit.
“We need transparency, the ability to move between different sectors, change,” Patrick Johnson, director of workforce innovation for the division’s chief information officer, told reporters ahead of the release.
This approach sets it apart from traditional government jobs that lock employees into fixed career paths with gradual pay increases over decades.
“From rewarding longevity, I mean, I’ve been in this career for 30 years, and we want to move into the system, which means that individuals go out for three years and come back, and they get penalties. We want to move to a system that allows us to do that without having to move back and forth,” Johnson said.
A circulating pipeline like this can constantly inject new perspectives into the Pentagon, a bureaucratic giant often criticized for its rigidity. has a lot of details to work out.
“How can they go out and develop more of their abilities, experiences and skill sets that they don’t get here, and how can we benefit from bringing them back later? ?” said Johnson. And when somebody gets a tech job, they say, ‘How are we going to monitor that? ?And here is what we can do for you.?
The competition for technical talent has long been fierce. Private companies can pay far more salaries than the government and provide other benefits that the Pentagon cannot match. Both Congress and the White House have weighed in on critical skills gaps that hamper the government’s ability to ensure cybersecurity.
The Government Accountability Office recently found that “Federal agencies have not made IT workforce planning a priority, as they have been required to do so by 20 years of law and guidance. Despite that.”
Still, government work is considered prestigious, even a mission for many, and time spent at the Pentagon can enhance one’s career.
A future implementation plan will describe how the Department of Defense will advance its employee goals and how its success will ultimately be measured. According to John Sherman, his CIO at the Pentagon, unconventional methods will be needed.
“Somebody comes to the Pentagon, goes to Silicon Valley, Austin, North Carolina, and other industries and comes back. “We need to figure this out,” he said Thursday at an event at
Plans are already in place to help agencies streamline and speed up onboarding by modernizing the background check process.
Trusted Workforce 2.0 is a policy framework between the Department of Defense, the Office of Human Resources and Management, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Director of National Intelligence, targeting lengthy background check processes and backlogs for security clearances.
The plan will move the agency to a continuous research model that updates employee backgrounds in real time. This contrasts with how regular, labor-intensive re-examinations update her files from scratch every five to ten years.
“One of the key pillars is exactly this point about creative approaches,” said Sherman.
Colin Demarest is a reporter for C4ISRNET covering military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Agency (i.e. Cold War decontamination and nuclear weapons development) in a daily South Carolina newspaper. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for the Federal Times, covering labor, policy, and contracts related to the government workforce. She previously worked at USA Today and McClatchy where she worked as a Digital Producer and The New York Times as a Copywriter. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.