WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and John Hoeven (R-ND) to develop and retain highly-skilled cybersecurity professionals in the federal workforce. Agencies across the federal government face growing cyber threats, but struggle to hire and retain qualified cybersecurity employees. U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) cosponsored the legislation, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, we face growing and evolving threats from sophisticated cyber-attacks,” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased the Senate passed this bipartisan bill to help the federal government recruit and retain highly skilled cybersecurity professionals, address staffing challenges in agencies across government, and strengthen our ability to combat cybersecurity threats and secure our systems.”
“Cybersecurity will continue to grow in importance, both in the public and private sectors,” said Senator Hoeven. “Our bipartisan legislation will help the federal government better fulfill the need for cybersecurity professionals by expanding opportunities for training and professional development. That means better recruitment and retention of this critical workforce and a more secure nation.”
“Federal agencies face many challenges in recruiting and maintaining a skilled IT workforce. As a result, our committee must focus on the federal cyber talent gap,” said Senator Johnson. “This bill helps make federal cybersecurity jobs more attractive for both current federal employees and future job-seekers.”
“The only way we can guard against the ever-expanding number of cybersecurity threats we face is if the federal government can attract and retain highly skilled cybersecurity professionals,” Senator Hassan said. “Now that this bipartisan bill has unanimously passed the Senate, I urge our House colleagues to take it up without delay to help bolster the safety and privacy of all Americans.”
Government agencies often cannot compete with the salaries and other benefits offered by tech giants in Silicon Valley, but they provide valuable opportunities to serve the country and defend our cyber front lines. The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act creates a civilian personnel rotation program for cybersecurity professionals at federal agencies. This program would enable employees to serve across multiple government agencies, allowing them to gain experience beyond their primary assignment and expand their professional networks. The legislation will provide opportunities to help attract and retain cybersecurity experts in the federal government by offering civilian employees opportunities to enhance their careers, broaden their professional experience, and foster collaborative networks by experiencing and contributing to the cyber mission beyond their home agencies.
Senator Peters has long worked to address the emerging threat of cyber-attacks. In 2016, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation to enable coordination between the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assist small businesses in planning for and protecting against cyber security attacks. That provision was later signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.