Contractors advised to comply with DOD Directive 8570.1

Mandated security training for DOD workforce applies to DOD contractor employees, too

The Defense Department’s information assurance standards, codified as Directive 8570.1, apply to DOD contractors. Contractors who want to do business with DOD should evaluate their ability to comply with the directive and find training opportunities for employees who need it, several training company experts say.

“There’s not a downside to contractors being certified,” said Phyllis Scott, president of training firm TTSC. Agencies that create the contracts will require it, and contractors who are already certified will have an immediate advantage, said Scott, who spoke as part of a panel sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America in November.

In December 2005, DOD approved a directive to train and certify at least 80,000 information assurance employees in four years. The requirement applies to all DOD military, civilian and contractor components. It divides positions into technical and managerial groups and applies different standards to each.

DOD appears to be slow in achieving compliance with the directive, but that might be misleading, Scott said. “At a component level, you might not see a lot of things moving,” she said. “But at the local level, the folks who want their systems to be secure, they’re going to make things happen.”

Like DOD, contractors must assess their organizations to identify the individuals and positions to which the directive applies, Scott said. Evaluating positions is important, she added. Some positions are primarily concerned with information assurance and are obvious targets for training and certification.

Others are more peripherally connected to information assurance. In some cases, companies might need to give those jobs to employees with the necessary certifications. But in other cases, managers may be able to redefine a position to remove the information assurance component so they can fill it without worrying about whether the job candidates are properly certified, Scott said.

“Maybe we need to rethink how we’re doing those positions,” she said. “That’s where we can really manage our workforce.”

Shelley Morris, a vice president at training firm New Horizons, told managers to assess their employees’ certification status. Some employees might already have certifications or be working toward gaining them and could comply with the directive. Technology has created a wealth of new training options, Morris added. Although traditional instructor-led training is still popular, virtual teachers, self-paced online courses and other alternatives are increasingly common.

The required certifications include common ones such as the Computing Technology Industry Association’s Network+ and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

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