Government wooing best and brightest for cyberdefense mission

Don't want to join the Navy and see the world? Then how about hitching up with the Federal Cyber Services (FCS) and defending the nation's information systems?

That's a pitch the federal government plans to make to college-bound students as a key part of President Clinton's National Plan for Information Systems Protection, released yesterday, which tags all federal information technology workers with a new FCS moniker. The government plans to woo students with scholarships and internships to help beef up the cadre of federal cyberspace workers.

The president's plan described a new Scholarship for Services project as the government's primary focus to educate and hire new federal IT workers and security managers, with the government paying for either graduate or undergraduate studies in the information assurance field in return for a predetermined period of federal service.

The FCS initiative also encompasses the ongoing Office of Personnel Management IT occupational study, designed to provide a better estimate of the types of IT jobs throughout the federal government. The OPM study also will lead to a sweeping reclassification of new federal IT job families and specialty titles to replace existing titles and categories outmoded by the blistering pace of technology. The high pace of development has forced agencies to find ways to shoehorn workers with job descriptions such "Webmaster" into the government bureaucratic structure, according to the plan.

OPM also will work with agencies to develop proposals for new workers and funding "required to ensure the government's ability to recruit, train and maintain IT personnel necessary to protect U.S. government information systems," according to the plan. The plan also envisions the establishment of centers for Information Technology Excellence throughout the government that will provide high-caliber information security training and certification for current federal IT security employees.

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