Apr 11 2023

DOD’s Cyber Workforce Implementation Plan Will Target Talent Gap

Using its recent Cyber Workforce Strategy as a foundation, the department will lay out six initiatives to address its growing cyber needs.

The Department of Defense intends to release a cybersecurity workforce implementation plan to accompany its strategy and enable it to identify, recruit, develop and retain top talent globally.

DOD’s plan will provide a list of activities to pursue over the next five years, along with performance indicators monitoring and assessing their impact.

The Pentagon issued its long-awaited Cyber Workforce Strategy in March. That was nearly three weeks after Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner said the Defense Information Systems Agency’s own Workforce 2025 plan would better ensure that personnel with the requisite training are assigned to the right positions, adjust to emerging technologies and embrace hybrid work. The DOD’s strategy lays the foundation for a cyber workforce that can accomplish the department’s various missions, but the list of implementation activities for its CIO to spearhead will be critical in coordinating civilian, officer, enlisted and contract personnel.

Patrick Johnson, director of the DOD Workforce Innovation Directorate, said in a statement that DOD is looking at every aspect of the cyber employee’s lifecycle. The goal is “to ensure we are not only finding and hiring a diverse group of skilled cyber specialists but also developing the tools, resources, and partnerships required to continue to grow these individuals professionally. I’m proud of the work our team has done so far, and we still have a lot more work to do to overcome talent shortages within the cyber workforce.”

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What’s in the DOD Cyber Workforce Strategy?

The DOD Cyber Workforce Strategy addresses talent development gaps in its current processes, prioritizes the secure and rapid deployment of resilient systems, and aims to transform the department with workforce analytics.

DOD aligned its strategic goals to four human capital management pillars:

  • Identification: Determining workforce needs and how to meet them with existing or future employees
  • Recruitment: Onboarding talent and evaluating the effectiveness of those efforts
  • Development: Providing opportunities and resources for employees to improve performance
  • Retention: Using incentive programs to keep employees on board and gauging the programs’ success

The pillars will help the Pentagon accomplish the strategy’s four goals:

  • Execute consistent capability assessment and analysis.
  • Establish an enterprisewide talent management program.
  • Facilitate a culture shift to optimize personnel management across the department.
  • Foster partnerships to develop employees’ capabilities and broaden their career experiences.

Currently, the department lacks common criteria for its cyber workforce requirements, does not target recruits based on skills, is limited in its capability assessments and training, and bleeds highly skilled personnel from its already small talent pool.

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Where the Cyber Workforce Implementation Plan Comes In

DOD’s Cyber Workforce Strategy closes with six enterprisewide workforce development initiatives it intends to implement to achieve its goals. The cyber workforce implementation plan will lay out exactly how.

The department launched its Cyberspace Workforce Qualification and Management Program on Feb. 15 and will soon assign responsibilities for managing DOD’s cyber workforce based on that policy series.

DOD will also code cyber workforce positions using its Cyber Workforce Framework and establish a review process for workforce requirements and capabilities.

Other initiatives the implementation plan will detail include:

  • DOD seeking additional authorities to recruit and retain talent
  • Training employees through rotational, scholarship and IT exchange programs
  • Turning the DOD CIO office into a center of excellence for cyber workforce analytics that inform risk assessments

“This strategy, in combination with our current portfolio, will help to unify cyber personnel management efforts across the DOD and ensure that our workforce continually develops through training and skill-building opportunities,” Mark Gorak, principal director for resources and analysis within the office of the CIO, said in a statement.

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