The U.S. government needs to do more than buy technology to improve cyber-security - it needs to hire more experts, according to a new report.
The report was prepared by the non-profit Partnership for Public Service and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and paints a picture of the government's cyber-security efforts as dysfunctional, where a lack of coordination and fragmented governance "hinders the ability to meet federal cyber-security work force needs."
Among other things, the report found in a survey of 18 federal agencies that only 40 percent of CIOs, CISOs and IT hiring managers are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of applicants for federal cyber-security jobs. The report also found a disconnect between front-line hiring managers and government's HR specialists.
"Our surveys reveal that front-line managers are consistently less satisfied with the effort to hire new cyber-security talent than their peers in HR," according to the report. "In addition, 41 percent of the CIOs/CISOs and 38 percent of HR managers reported being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied at the level of collaboration with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which should provide vital support for agencies looking to acquire skilled cyber-security workers."
The report signals the Obama administration may have a tough road ahead as it looks to shore up the nation's cyber-defenses.
"Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority," President Obama said at a press conference in May. "We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient."
To address some of the issues facing the administration, the report's authors urge a dedicated, high-level team within the U.S. Office of Personnel Management be created to identify top cyber-security talent and help bring them aboard. It also recommends training programs be developed to prepare a state-of-the-art federal cyber-security work force and that members of Congress be encouraged to expand and fund programs aimed at training graduate and undergraduate students in cyber-security.
According to the report, the government runs a successful scholarship program to fill about 120 entry-level cyber-security jobs with recent grads, but the need is much greater - closer to 1,000 graduates a year.
"President Obama has declared cyber-security to be -one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation' and has pledged to address these threats," said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, in a statement. "The only way to get it done is to build a vibrant, highly trained and dedicated federal cyber-security work force."