Biden administration seeking ‘bold and ambitious’ ideas from cyber workforce RFI says WH official

The request for information asks for "Gordian knot" solutions for addressing government's biggest cybersecurity training and education challenges.
White House, north side
(Getty Images)

The Biden administration is seeking “bold and ambitious” ideas from its recent request for information on how best to augment the United States’ cyber workforce, according to a senior White House official.

Speaking Monday at a webinar hosted by the POPVOX Foundation, ONCD Director for Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy Suzanne Nielsen said the government will review even some of the most out-of-the-box ideas because of the volume of fresh talent needed to fill currently vacant cyber positions.

She said: “The scale of the challenge, the speed at which it’s in our benefit as a country to address it are all on a grand scale … [S]o please be bold and ambitious, and we really appreciate those ideas.”

In particular, the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) in its request for information (RFI) included an option to submit “Gordian knot” suggestions, which is intended to elicit possibly highly unusual solutions.


Early this month, the White House launched the RFI, which was issued with the intention of collecting wide-ranging evidence on how the government might bring new talent to the public sector and all areas of industry. Unlike many RFIs that solely seek feedback from vendors, this one asks for input from cyber students and practitioners as well.

The RFI responses will be reviewed once the submission deadline closes at 11:59 a.m. EDT on Nov. 3, 2022, and according to the White House will guide the ONCD’s development of the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy.

ONCD plans to group responses to the Cyber Workforce, Training and Education Request for Information RFI into broad categories like digital awareness, as well as specific bins like election training for cyber specialists. But there’s a hope some will be never-before-seen ideas.

Response reviews will run into December, and ONCD wants to get through presentations for any respondent who requests one by early February.

Speaking alongside Nielsen at the webinar, Deputy National Cyber Director for Technology and Ecosystem Security Camille Stewart Gloster said the government recognizes it cannot develop a national strategy alone.


She said: “That’s why it’s a whole-of-nation strategy; that’s why we’re engaging all of you … [M]uch of this will be a charge to industry, a charge to the education sector, a charge to a bunch of discrete stakeholder groups to take their piece and run with it.”

Alongside industry and other respondents, nonprofit cyber workforce champions such as Craig Newmark Philanthropies are also prepping responses.

“I’m really encouraged by the national cyber director in the White House making cyber workforce and related cybersecurity education a big priority,” said Craig Newmark, who previously founded Craigslist. “This RFI is a real, big, important part of that because we need to move forward together as a country.”

Dave Nyczepir

Written by Dave Nyczepir

Dave Nyczepir is a technology reporter for FedScoop. He was previously the news editor for Route Fifty and, before that, the education reporter for The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, California. He covered the 2012 campaign cycle as the staff writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine and Maryland’s 2012 legislative session as the politics reporter for Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his master’s of journalism.

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