The House Oversight and Reform Committee today approved by voice vote the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act, along with other important bills, which will now head to the full House for consideration.
Introduced by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Nancy Mace, R-S.C., the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act would allow cybersecurity employees to work across multiple Federal agencies, helping them to expand their skills and networks. The bill is identical to a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate in April, which was included in the Senate-approved United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.
“It is critical that we have a cyber strategy in this country,” said Rep. Khanna during a committee markup session today. “This bill is one part of that strategy, it would create a rotational program among the Federal agencies so that those trained in cybersecurity can rotate through the Federal agencies and develop expertise.”
“It would allow us also to draw from the private sector, and have a better collaboration between the private sector and the Federal government at the highest order so that we can protect our Federal agencies, so we can protect our national security, and ultimately so we can assist in protecting private industry from the cyberattacks that they face,” he said.
The committee’s ranking member, James Comer, R-Ky., voiced his opposition to the bill, calling it “duplicative and unnecessary” due to existing cyber rotations in the Federal government. However, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., responded that the existing rotational programs are “limited,” and the bill will allow government agencies to “amplify their impact” and learn from best practices.
In addition to the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act, the committee approved several other important bills, including the Merit System Protection Board Empowerment Act and the Plum Act.
Merit System Protection Board Empowerment Act
The Merit System Protection Board Empowerment Act, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., would reauthorize the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) through 2026 and allows the board to conduct employee surveys to ensure agencies are following merit system principles.
The MSPB has gone four years without a quorum and Rep. Connolly has urged President Biden to appoint new members or risk the board having to cease operations.
“While this bill does not solve the larger problem of confirming qualified leaders at the helm of the board, it does take steps to ensure that when President Biden’s recent nominees to the board are confirmed, they can start at the sprint that will be needed to address the years-long backlog of adjudications,” Rep. Connolly said during the markup.
The Plum Act, or the Periodically Listing Updates to Management (PLUM) Act, would “increase the transparency and accountability of senior leaders in the executive branch,” Chairwoman Maloney said.
Reps. Maloney and Connolly introduced the legislation along with Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., which calls for a current and publicly available online directory of senior government leaders.
Currently, the Plum Book, which lists all the positions appointed by the president, is released once every four years.
“The Plum book provides only a snapshot in time and does not reflect changes that occur between publications,” Chairwoman Maloney said today. “As a result, current information about senior administration officials is often outdated and difficult to find. In the digital age, providing Americans with a list of top Federal officials only once every four years is simply unacceptable.”