Federal committee considers cybersecurity corps
Wed 5 Apr 2017
In an effort to bridge the digital gap in federal government, a House oversight committee is considering the creation of a cybersecurity corps made up of private sector recruits.
During a hearing on workforce challenges, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chairman of the technology subcommittee, asked whether a similar framework to tech groups 18F and the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) could work for cybersecurity.
Formed in 2014, 18F is a federal digital services agency which aims to support groups within government transform the way they deliver digital services and technology products to U.S. citizens and businesses. The USDS, part of the Executive Office of the President, is a consultancy which helps to troubleshoot large-scale federal tech initiatives, such as Digital Services Playbook and College Scorecard. Both of these groups rely heavily on recruitment from within the private sector, including from tech giants Twitter and Facebook.
According to Steven Cooper, the Commerce Department’s former CIO, the proposed cybersecurity corps would comprise of a central team of cyber experts serving short terms, ranging from six months to two years. These private sector recruits could be responsible for penetration testing, deploying security badges or other projects across various federal departments.
Debora Plunkett, board member at the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals, also testified arguing that the private sector workers would be most useful in roles such as product testing and forensics.
Plunkett did however consider the misalignment of deploying temporary recruits at federal agencies experiencing constant attacks as ‘you’d want to have some prior understanding of the network.’
She added: ‘If it really is a ready reserve where they would go anywhere, it would be difficult to send someone in to address a threat when they don’t know the infrastructure and they’re not up on the current vulnerabilities.’
A further challenge would be attempting to coordinate the professional resources, said Nick Marinos, assistant director of information technology within the Government Accountability Office. He argued that coordination with the c-suite would be required – ‘If the CIO is not actively engaged, the help may not be going to the right places.’