Committee Reports Legislation to Enhance DHS Cyber Personnel Authorities

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, commended the approval of the DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014, S.2354. This legislation would help address critical challenges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) faces in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals by providing the Secretary of Homeland Security hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts like those of the Secretary of Defense. The legislation was reported out of Committee by voice vote. The legislation now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

“Our government needs the best and brightest to combat 21st century threats,” said Chairman Carper. “I would like to thank my colleagues for working with me to create effective legislation that will provide DHS with the personnel authorities it needs to respond to evolving threats in the digital realm. I plan to continue working with Dr. Coburn and the rest of my Senate colleagues to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.”

Hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals is challenging for DHS due to competition for talent from both the private sector and other government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Security Agency (NSA).  Under existing law, DOD and NSA have personnel authorities that have enabled them to build and maintain a strong cybersecurity workforce.  The DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014 aims to better support DHS’ cybersecurity mission by giving the Department recruitment and retention authorities for cybersecurity professionals similar to those of DOD. The new tools will allow DHS to hire at the same speed and with comparable salaries to DOD. The bill would also require DHS to report annually on the progress of the program and to ensure adequate transparency and oversight of the recruitment and retention program.

Additionally, an amendment by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was adopted that would require the Department of Homeland Security to implement the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework to provide a common lexicon for cybersecurity work, a uniform classification system for job functions, and specific employment codes.