Chairman Carper Introduces Bill to Enhance DHS Cyber Personnel Authorities

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation would help address critical challenges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) faces in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals. The DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014, S.2354, would give the Secretary of Homeland Security hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts like those of the Secretary of Defense. The legislation is scheduled for consideration during the Committee’s Business Meeting on May 21, 2014.

“Twenty-first century threats require a 21st century response,” said Chairman Carper. “Every day, our businesses, public institutions and critical infrastructure are targeted by hackers hoping to steal our ideas, compromise our personal information or even cause physical harm. Our nation needs a strong cybersecurity workforce to address these growing threats in cyberspace. Unfortunately, the demand for cybersecurity experts in the government greatly outpaces the supply and many agencies have had difficulty attracting the best and brightest and retaining those already in service. This legislation would help address this problem by giving the Secretary of Homeland Security the personnel authorities the Department needs to improve their ability to compete with the private sector and other agencies to hire and retain the most skilled cyber workforce.  I am pleased that Chairman McCaul has similar provisions in his bill in the House, H.R. 3696, and I look forward to working with him and my other colleagues in Congress to cultivate a strong workforce that can better secure our nation from the evolving cyber threat.”

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.

For a one page summary of the legislation, click here. For the full text of the bill, click here.