DHS could hire 1,000 more cybersecurity professionals

Department to expand computer security worforce over next three years

The Homeland Security Department will hire up to 1,000 additional people to work in cybersecurity jobs over the next three years, senior DHS officials announced today.

The new employees will be scattered across DHS agencies, and will work in areas such as cyber risk and strategic analysis, cyber incident response, vulnerability detection and assessment, intelligence and investigation and network and systems engineering, DHS said. The hiring authority comes from a joint effort between DHS, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, according to the department.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the program in Washington at an event hosted by the National Cyber Security Alliance. Philip Reitinger, deputy undersecretary of DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) that includes the National Cybersecurity Division (NCSD), joined Napolitano at the event.

DHS is in charge of protecting the federal government’s civilian computer networks and leads efforts to work with industry to enhance cybersecurity.

“This authority will assist us in recruiting the best people in the world to come work for us over the next few years as cyber analysts, developers and engineers,” Napolitano said. “So look out – we’re coming.”

Napolitano said some employees will be hired to work in the NPPD.  In addition, she said some employees will be hired to work at DHS agencies such as the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in cybersecurity-related roles.

Meanwhile, Reitinger said the new authority will let DHS speed up the hiring process. “We’re going to move more quickly and we’re going to develop mechanisms…to bring people on rapidly and to reach out to them,” Reitinger said.

DHS didn’t provide details of how many employees would go to specific department agencies or the total number of employees currently working in cybersecurity-related jobs across the department. However, Reitinger said by the end of fiscal 2010 DHS plans to have 260 people working at the NCSD, up from the approximately 117 the division currently employs.

“Organizations succeed or fail based on the people that do the work and so our focus is on getting the right people in to do the work,” Reitinger said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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