Focus on workforce reshaping aids cyber hiring at DOJ, but retention struggles

As cyber reskilling and workforce reshaping become major initiatives across the federal government, the Justice Department wants to staff up for cyber-related jobs.

On this front, OPM’s recent focus on building and codifying cyber skills, as well as its implementation of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education framework has helped, according to Greg Hall, assistant director for Information System Security and chief information security officer at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

“I’ve rewritten our position descriptions to be consistent now with a NICE cyber framework,” Hall said on Agency in Focus – Justice Department. “And that gives us the advantage now to be a little more specific, when we go out and actually hire people. And we’re putting out a vacancy announcement, we can be more specific about cyber skill sets that are necessary, we actually have direct hiring authority for bringing on cyber folks to fill cyber positions.”

Hall said he just finished an Investment Review Board, the U.S. Attorneys’ annual assessment of IT initiatives and resources, which concluded with authorization for three new employees, on the heels of hiring an information system security and a governance policy and compliance manager.

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“So I’m actually going to have five new staff on board here within the next two months, which is huge for me, that will really, significantly bolster the government aspect of resourcing for the cybersecurity program,” Hall said. “It’s critically important that we get these folks and that we continue to train them and retain them. As these data solutions become more complex, as these IT solutions become more complex, the need for integration is always going to be there. And so it’s important that we develop this knowledge capital.”

Hall was consistent with many other organizations across DOJ, citing mission as one of the biggest attracters of talent. He said recent news stories highlighting some of the cyber efforts undertaken by DOJ to indict state sponsored cyber-attackers and prosecuting domestic cyber criminals have helped to spread the message about the impact that these federal employees can have.

So that can help with recruiting efforts. And this new focus on cyber skills will help, he said, but retention is just as important, especially after agencies have invested heavily in training these new personnel.

“There’s a great emphasis on this and I think they’re trying to assist us as best as they can, with changing policy to allow us to bring on folks more expediently and to make sure that we’ve got the right language in these position descriptions of vacancy announcement so that we’re recruiting the right talent,” Hall said. “And then ultimately being able to incentivize and keep these people, retain them. And I think, at some point that will probably be addressed as well, whether it’s vis-a-vis accelerated pace schedules, or bonuses, or training, or what our combination of all of that that allows us to effectively compete with other people that are looking for those same cyber professionals.”

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