House members from both sides of the aisle this week reintroduced legislation that would create a National Digital Reserve Corps – a civilian organization tasked with addressing digital and cyber needs across the Federal government.

The National Digital Reserve Corps bill – introduced by Reps. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, on Jan. 11 – would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to detail individuals to agencies according to the government’s specific cybersecurity needs.

The bill would allow private-sector tech specialists to sign up for a three-year period in which they would work for the Federal government for 30 days each calendar year to take on digital and cybersecurity projects, digital education and training, data triage, acquisition assistance, and development of technical solutions.

The legislation is one of many attempts across government to address a nationwide shortage of cyber talent.

“As we have seen from previous cyberattacks, our government currently lacks the workforce capacity needed to combat ransomware and bad actors,” Rep. Gonzales said in a statement. “The National Digital Reserve Corps strives to fill that void with civilian industry experts working in service to our Federal government and our national security.”

He continued, “This will bring the ingenuity and expertise of the private sector to our Federal government to bolster our nation’s cybersecurity defense.”

According to the bill, members of the corps would obtain security clearances, complete certifications, and receive training and education from the Federal government.

Additionally, the National Digital Reserve Corps Act would require the Department of Labor to issue regulations that ensures the civilians’ jobs are waiting for them once they finish their annual service with the government.

“As the online landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, our government needs cybersecurity solutions that meet the moment,” Rep. Kelly said. “I am proud to introduce the National Digital Reserve Corps Act again this Congress to build the cybersecurity infrastructure we need to keep every American safe.”

The same legislation was introduced in the 117th Congress, and Rep. Gonzales attempted unsuccessfully to tack it on to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. Critics of the legislation said the 30-day service period was too short to benefit the agencies’ cyber efforts.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.