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DHS launches portal to recruit and retain cybersecurity talent

Current Department of Homeland Security employees aren’t required to join the department’s new cyber talent management system, but they may want to consider it, according to senior DHS officials.

“DHS’s Cybersecurity Talent Management System fundamentally reinvents how the Department hires, develops, and retains high-level and diverse cybersecurity talent,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday. “As our country continues to face an evolving threat landscape, we cannot rely solely on traditional recruiting tools to fill critical vacancies. This new system will allow our Department to better compete with the professionals of cybersecurity and remain agile enough to meet the demands of our critical cybersecurity mission.

The department’s CTMS took eight years to develop. Today, a rule establishing the new system comes into effect, and there is a new website where those interested in exploring a different government model of assessment and compensation for their cybersecurity work can apply to be considered. .

“By moving to CTMS, for our current employees who are interested, they will have a lot more flexibility and growth opportunities in their careers,” a senior DHS official told reporters on Friday. “They will be able to explore and pursue with their managers without having to apply for an entirely new position as they would today and we think that will be a very compelling justification for our employees.”

Officials said a recent sprint Mayorkas announced to address the department’s cybersecurity workforce needs had been successful and CTMS would continue to build on those gains.

“He has set an aggressive goal of hiring 200 cyber staff in 60 days,” the officials said. “We exceeded this target by nearly 50%, hiring nearly 300 new employees and issuing 500 additional tentative job offers.” But there are still about 1,500 cybersecurity vacancies at DHS and retaining cyber talent, in addition to attracting more, is an important part of the equation for maintaining a workforce. efficient.

DHS’s power to circumvent rules based on a merit system that rewards longevity and forces individuals to compete for their positions has received a cold reception from some who fear that nepotism and similar abuses of the system will take hold. the top. A major union of federal workers is among those worried about a lack of proper oversight.

But officials are optimistic that the new simulations they have built with psychologists to test relevant skills will ultimately provide better quality, as well as quantity and range, of cybersecurity workers.

“It’s about assessing people’s actual skills, versus their ability to write a resume,” another senior DHS official told reporters.

The department initially focuses on vacancies in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of the Chief Information Officer, but will eventually add additional DHS components. The goal now is to onboard 150 cybersecurity services employees into priority roles by 2022.

“We expect the DHS Cybersecurity Service to continue to grow at an aggressive rate as we bolster our workforce across a range of technical specializations, including those that are just beginning to appear relevant today,” they said. officials said.

Some of the technical areas mentioned were digital and network forensics, vulnerability assessment and threat analysis.

“Rather than doing these generic assessments that I think you’ll find in most federal jobs today, we decided to focus and drill down into the specifics,” the officials said. “We were able to build these peak ratings. They’re really designed, because they’re competency-based, they’re designed to be fair to all applicants and to really come in and isolate those who are most qualified for our job. We expect them to improve the skill level of our recruits and we also believe this will help us improve the diversity of our cyber workforce.

Another great incentive to join CTMS is that it allows compensation to reach up to $255,800, which is the VP compensation.

Officials on Friday’s call said it was important to recognize the need to compete with private sector employers and that the rates outlined under the system are based on annual labor market surveys.

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