Workforce

DOD can still hire cyber civilians

Shutterstock imag (by Benjamin Haas): cyber coded team. 

The Department of Defense has outlined 16 categories of civilian positions that are exempt from President Trump's government hiring freeze -- among them are cyber positions.

A DOD memo outlining hiring authorities and actions that can be taken under the freeze states that the department should use the governmentwide hiring freeze on civilian workers to "assess its most critical missions and requirements" and ensure the civilian workforce is most efficiently assigned to support the department.

The memo, from Deputy Secretary Robert Work, tasks senior positions such as the service secretaries and deputy chief management officers with assessing which positions fall within the exemptions outlined in the memo.

"Positions required for cybersecurity and cyberspace operations or planning," and "positions required for the execution of the cyber and intelligence lifecycle operations, planning, or support thereof" are two of the top five categories of exempted positions.

Other positions related to supporting combat operations, deployment, nuclear command and safety and health positions are also exempt categories.

Besides the 16 categories identified in the memo, the order also provides guidance for officials to exempt additional positions as long as they certify in writing that the positions are "necessary to meet the Department's national security or public safety responsibilities."

The memo further states that for non-exempt positions that were open prior to Jan. 22, managers may continue with processing applicants, but no offers may be extended until the freeze is lifted.

Managers can move civilian workers internally as needed, as long as they are not moved into non-exempt positions, the memo also stated. Additionally, "managers must ensure contract actions are not taken to compensate for impacts of the hiring freeze."

A basic search of cyber-related positions at DOD on the USAjobs.com website turned up only 86 openings, but they include such positions as director of cyber warfare for naval operations, intelligence specialist with U.S. Cyber Command and numerous IT specialist positions across the department.

"A freeze is no substitute for effectively managing human capital. Sadly I think the failure of the latter led to the former," former DOD Deputy CIO Paul Brubaker said.

"We're trying to solve some big hairy audacious 21st century challenges, like cybersecurity, with a Rube Goldberg hiring system that really isn't suited for any purpose but to create employment for gobs of HR specialists and fails to serve the mission," Brubaker said in an email to FCW.

The Department of Defense as a whole has nearly 4,000 civilian openings listed on the USAjobs site.

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


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