A new report from the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) is emphasizing the pressing need for a national cyber workforce development strategy and recommends that the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) be in charge of developing the strategy.

The report recommends that any strategy ONCD develops be fashioned in concert with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and should focus on outreach and education, as well as overcoming barriers to talent acquisition, and promoting innovation.

The report was prepared by a panel of NAPA fellows co-chaired by Daniel Chenok, Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government, and Karen Evans, Managing Director of the Cyber Readiness Institute. Her extensive Federal IT service includes stints as CIO at the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, assistant secretary for cybersecurity, energy security, and emergency response at the Energy Department, and Administrator for the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

“Cybersecurity poses a tremendous challenge and there is growing demand for cybersecurity workers who can protect the systems that enable so many aspects of our lives and our economy,” NAPA President and CEO Terry Gerton said in a press release. “The Panel’s findings and recommendations strongly support the development of an effective cybersecurity workforce, which can be done only by creating and executing a well-coordinated strategic plan.”

The panel recommended that any national strategy should incorporate the following key components:

  1. “Encouraging more people to choose a career in the cybersecurity field through outreach and education;
  2. Enabling education and training to build needed competencies and alternative pathways to cybersecurity careers;
  3. Overcoming barriers to recruiting talent and matching people to jobs; and
  4. Assessing performance and promoting innovation in workforce development practice.”

NAPA said ONCD’s capabilities to develop and implement a national strategy will require collaboration across the Federal government, as well as with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and industry. This collaboration should come with budget and performance assessment authorities, according to the report.

NAPA’s report also examines CISA’s ongoing workforce development programs and found that the agency has “generally performed well” in meeting its objectives of increasing the talent in the cyber workforce pipeline and building governmentwide awareness and competency of cybersecurity.

“Success [of CISA’s programs] will depend on two factors,” the report states. “First, it will depend on clarifying and supporting CISA’s role and responsibilities in national workforce development, which should follow from the government-wide strategy for developing the national workforce.”

“Second, the Panel concludes that fully realizing the potential of CISA’s workforce development programs will depend on Congress providing the authorities to enable CISA to partner effectively with educational and training institutions and the staff needed to manage programs at scale,” the report says.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.