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Congressman John Ratcliffe

Representing the 4th District of Texas

Chairman Ratcliffe examines cyber workforce recruitment and retention strategies

September 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) chaired a cybersecurity hearing today that examined successful cyber workforce recruitment and retention strategies from leaders in the private sector, which may be utilized at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“It’s no secret that both the public and private sectors are facing an unprecedented shortage of cybersecurity workers across all skill sets – from front-line defenders to CISOs – a problem that will only continue to grow,” Ratcliffe said.

“While DHS faces some unique challenges that are specific to the federal government – such as slow hiring processes and limited funding – private sector hiring and retention best practices are still incredibly valuable for the federal government. That’s why it’s important to engage with the folks who’ve successfully dealt with our shared challenges already, determine how we can learn from their experience and expertise, then translate that over to the public sector.”

The witnesses included Executive Director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security at Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dr. Frederick R. Chang; Vice President and Chief Technical Strategist at McAffe, Scott Montgomery; Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Northrop Grumman, Dr. Michael Papay; and Strategic Advisory Board Member for the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals, Juliet “Jules” Okafor.

Papay emphasized the benefits to be gained by continually challenging cyber employees through opportunities for growth and movement within the company, as well as offering opportunities for further education or renewed certification.

“We move them around inside the company from customer to customer, tough problem to tough problem. We utilize rotational programs that expose and train our cyber workforce in defending our network, enabling our customers’ missions, and supporting full spectrum cyber operations,” Papay said.

“We work with employees to help them create their own growth along the cyber career path, give them the time to take the training necessary to maintain their certifications, and keep their knowledge and skills fresh. We even offer educational assistance in some instances.”

Papay later said he believes continued information sharing is paramount because it helps prevent cybersecurity professionals from duplicating existing efforts, allowing them to focus their resources most optimally for the organization.

Witnesses also praised the positive impact of collaboration with the public sector through programs such as CyberCorps, encouraging increased mutually beneficial efforts to help bridge the cyber skills gap across the board.

“As we continue addressing DHS’s cyber workforce issues – discussions like this will be critical to ensuring we address these challenges in the most effective way possible,” Ratcliffe said.

“What we’re learning from conversations – coupled with the excepted service hiring authority DHS has coming down the pipes – make me very optimistic about our cyber workforce going forward.”