A bill that would establish a cybersecurity workforce rotational program passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support Wednesday.
If it becomes law, the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act would allow senior tech industry workers to enter government for a set period of time and grant government workers the ability to rotate among federal agencies. Supporters of the proposed legislation have argued that it would open the door for more cyber expertise to enter government.
The bill was introduced to the House in May, and in late June was sent to the floor of the chamber for consideration by lawmakers. A version of the bill was first proposed in 2019 by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. The Senate reintroduced updated legislation that matches the House version in April.
“I’m proud to see the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act pass the House today with bipartisan support,” said bill sponsor Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif,. “To maintain our nation’s leadership & security in the 21st century we need an integrated federal workforce, particularly one that possesses the knowledge, skills, and competencies to counter increasingly sophisticated threats from foreign actors.”
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., also co-sponsored the House version of the bill.
The bill comes after high-profile cyberattacks against the government, like the SolarWinds hack, have increased the urgency of lawmakers attempting to help agencies recruit and retain cyber talent.
“Cyber security is national security. We’ve all seen just how much damage can be done to our economy and infrastructure when we don’t take it seriously,” Mace said in a statement. “In fact, just last year 11 federal agencies were hacked by a group affiliated with Russia. Our cyber security challenges are dramatically increasing.”
Improving the flow of information and knowledge between the public and private sector is a top priority for agencies including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Earlier this year the agency established the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, which is intended to provide an environment in which the government and industry can exchange information about best practice and zero-day threats.
The House sponsors urged the Senate to pass the bill quickly.