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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Reader comments

Tue, Oct 13, 2009

DHS already has very good IT people within the many agencies that it cobbled together to create the Dept - buth they have been demoralized by the bizarre HR methods that DHS uses. The first place they need to deploy IT security professionals is in the human resources department assets and databases - the first place they need to study is their position descriptions and promotion policies - the IT professionals that used to work for Dept of Forestry that are now in DHS are dynamic parachuting firejumpers, and not at all the same skillset or personality profile as the cubicle dwellers of INS. And yes, you are right about golf - any type of team sport helps people understand if you are trustworthy, and that quality above all is what the hiring managers want in an IT security person - more than skill, age, education, experience, qualification, or intelligence, they just want that feeling that you are trustworthy, and they will go to a familiar face to get it, in their ignorance of what trustworthy means in the cybersecurity world.

Wed, Oct 7, 2009

I agree with the Oct 5 posting...I went thru the entire hiring process for a GS-14 position: I was one of three 'highly qualified' out of 152 applicants, and was the only one interviewed three times. The hiring authority didn't want to hire any of us three, withdrew the job cert and reposted. I re-applied, and did not even make the 'qualified' list. They ended up hiring another Fed from a different agency. What a racket.

Wed, Oct 7, 2009

Well wake up and smell the coffee. This is how it’s always been and always will be. If they come to you with their IT issues it shows they trust in your knowledge and judgment. You've become a very valuable commodity to them. Believe me if you've been around awhile you should know that they couldn't match the private sector salaries being paid to top people in the field. So what's the real problem? A BSCS with a Masters in IT….so what, we all have these. This is why we are in such demand.

Tue, Oct 6, 2009

Academics is one part of the equation. Experience in cyber work with a track record and a clearance makes you fully qualified if you have a clearance. NOW - to put your resume near the top of the pile, it sure does make a HUGE difference to know somebody inside that will say, "I Know this person". In my career I was picked three times without the contact, and twice by knowing somebody inside. Bottom line network, network, network, beer, golf, conferences, what ever it takes.

Mon, Oct 5, 2009

As long as your not over 30 years old. I have a BSCS and a Masters in IT and the government won't hire me because of my age. I work as a contractor for the govt and the only ones who get hired are the ones with the low handicap on the golf course. They (govt types) are always coming to me for solutions to their IT problems, but won't hire me. Now I know why the govt is bazillions of dollars in debt! Same hiring practices apply govt wide. It's not what you know, it's who you know.

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