It may be time for the government to hire cyber folks without formal degrees

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  • Maybe the cybersecurity people federal agencies hire don’t need to have formal degrees? Given the acute and ongoing shortage of cybersecurity talent, the government might think about hiring on skill, rather than specific degree, according to John Zangardi, chief information officer of the Department of Homeland Security. At a Washington conference, Zangardi noted that DHS’ own cybersecurity chief has a psychology degree. Zangardi said he’s working with the department’s human capital chief, Angela Baily, to adjust the hiring system.
  • The world’s largest naval base is limiting its operations as Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the East Coast. Naval Station Norfolk is closed to all but mission-essential personnel as of Thursday evening. Norfolk and other bases in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia issued orders to start preparing for heavy rain and winds, and implemented mandatory evacuations in some areas.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is reminding agencies they have many flexibilities to offer to employees impacted by Hurricane Dorian. OPM urged agencies to make sure their employees have access to necessary IT networks and systems so they can telework. Agencies can also grant weather and safety leave if they decide their employees can’t safely travel to work. OPM also said it’ll work with the Office of Management and Budget to decide whether it should set up an emergency leave transfer program. Employees can donate unused leave through this program to co-workers impacted by a major hurricane or event. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • A senior Freedom of Information Act policy official is stepping down after serving more 30 years at the Justice Department. Melanie Ann Pustay, director of DOJ’s Office of Information Policy, will retire on Oct. 3. Pustay has served as OIP director since 2007, where she’s overseen governmentwide compliance with FOIA. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies are getting help in moving to a zero trust environment. The CIO Council’s interagency working group and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are collaborating on taking the concept of zero trust from a buzzword to reality. Sylvia Burns, the deputy CIO at the FDIC and co-chairwoman of the interagency group, said NIST is developing a zero trust architecture and implementing a sandbox to test technology. Speaking at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference yesterday, Burns said NIST also has drafted a special publication around zero trust that has gone through interagency review. She said NIST will release the new draft special publication for public comment in the coming months. (Rep. Veronica Escobar)
  • Phase II of the Pentagon’s Cyber Excepted Service program is starting to show results. It’s enrolled more than 2,500 employees and is also reducing the time to hire, down from 111 days to 80 days at the U.S. Cyber Command. Despite the success, House appropriators still rejected the Defense Department’s request for almost $5 million to further implement the effort.
  • Democratic members of the House want U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to reconsider its new policy, which could effect the children of government employees and servicemembers stationed abroad. Over 50 lawmakers signed a letter sent to acting USCIS head Ken Cuccinelli, expressing concern that the agency’s new residency definitions will have a significant impact on the many individuals serving the U.S. overseas. Though USCIS has said not many will be affected by the change, the lawmakers said it has caused unnecessary confusion.
  • Over 200 House members are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and appropriations leadership to secure protections for federal employee unions in next year’s spending bills. They’re hoping to keep appropriations language in whatever final spending bill the House can agree to with the Senate. The House already passed provisions that would prohibit agencies from unilaterally enforcing a collective bargaining agreement that a federal employee union didn’t agree to. (Federal News Network)
  • An American Federation of Government Employees local in New York is suing the Trump administration for violating the injunction on the president’s collective bargaining executive orders. AFGE said both the Social Security Administration and the Federal Service Impasses Panel proposed and then implemented changes based on the EO’s to the union’s contract. The impasses panel in June ruled in favor of SSA, in cutting official time and prohibiting AFGE from using agency office space. AFGE filed this latest lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern New York. (Federal News Network)
  • EPA employees in Michigan relocating to a vehicle emissions testing lab have raised safety concerns about the air quality. Their local AFGE chapter said more testing is needed, after an indoor air quality test found higher-than-acceptable levels of carbon dioxide in two of the facilities they’ll be moving into. The report the EPA provided to the union states that the facility passed inspection in three separate reviews. About 20 EPA employees will start work at the lab starting Monday. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army’s inspector general has 20 recommendations for how to fix problems with the service’s privatized housing. The IG found 68% of residents were dissatisfied with on-base housing. The review came after family members testified about substandard living conditions earlier this year. It found major oversight shortcomings, including a 2013 policy that banned local installation officials from conducting health and safety inspections. It also found none of the Army’s installation commanders were properly trained on how to manage and oversee the privatized housing initiative. Army officials said they agree with the IG’s recommendations, and are already implementing most of them. (Federal News Network)

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