DHS to beef up cybersecurity staff

The Homeland Security Department's infrastructure and cyber units are interviewing candidates for more than 300 job openings and also intend to convert more than 200 contractor jobs into government positions, a top DHS official testified this week.

The department's National Protection and Programs Directorate has 330 open positions, of which 250 are new jobs created in fiscal 2008, according to Robert Jamison, the department's under secretary for the directorate.

About 200 of those vacancies are in the late stages of candidate selection, Jamison told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on April 1.

"We've made substantial progress. We've got a long way to go. It's something that we focus on daily," Jamison said. "If we don't get the people on board to execute the missions, not only will we not accomplish what we're trying to do from a mission standpoint, but we're in jeopardy for a transition, so we make it a top priority."

To stabilize the cybersecurity and infrastructure protection divisions for the upcoming presidential transition, Jamison said he is close to finishing the conversion of 107 contractor positions into government positions, and has identified another 120 contractor positions that may be converted.

Jamison also described the director's role in an interagency effort to secure the "dot-gov" network by consolidating access points, expanding intrusion detection capabilities and improving response capabilities. The department is requesting $294 million for the National Cyber Security Division in fiscal 2009 for those and other capabilities, an increase of $83 million.

The department is doing intrusion detection and flow analysis on a small percentage of dot-gov traffic, Jamison said.

"We are going to move to real-time intrusion detection over the next two years of, the goal, 100 percent of that dot-gov traffic, which, in essence, is providing commercial intrusion detection capability," Jamison said. The new capability will be comprehensive at every Internet access point, consistent and informed with the latest threat information, he said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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