A new bipartisan House bill aims to bolster the U.S. cybersecurity workforce by creating two training programs within the federal government, building on companion legislation introduced in the Senate earlier this year.
The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Expansion Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., would establish a cybersecurity registered apprenticeship program in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and a Department of Veterans Affairs pilot program that would provide cybersecurity training to veterans.
“Reports of cyber attacks continue to rise, and we must respond accordingly to protect businesses, sensitive personal data, and ultimately our national security,” Houlahan said in a statement. “Thankfully, our bipartisan, bicameral bill will help train veterans and other Americans to be the next generation of cyber defense professionals.”
The bill would require the director of CISA to consult with the Labor and Defense secretaries, as well as the directors of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management, on a framework for developing the apprenticeship program.
Participants could be tapped for cybersecurity-specific excepted service positions by the CISA director, who would be required to submit a report to Congress on the program every two years.
Eligible enrollees for the VA pilot program include veterans and current military members transitioning to civilian life. The VA secretary, charged with standing up the program one year after the enactment of the legislation, would collaborate with the secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security and Labor, as well as the OPM director, on training and the leveraging of platforms and frameworks for the program.
“By creating programs that provide veterans with the skills they need to help protect this country in the cyber domain, this bill is an innovative way to bolster our nation’s cyber defenses and strengthen the federal cyber workforce while giving veterans an opportunity to continue serving their country,” Gallagher said in a statement.
The companion bill, introduced by Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, in July, was reported to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee with amendments by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Thursday.
The bicameral legislation comes following a number of federal efforts to strengthen the U.S. cybersecurity workforce. In March, the DOD released a Cyber Workforce Strategy intended to grow its ranks and address talent shortages, while a bipartisan bill to relax educational requirements for federal cyber workers breezed through a House vote in October.