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Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-On-The-Ground Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of H.R. 3107, the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act. This is a bill I introduced to address fundamental challenges in the cyber workforce at the Department of Homeland Security. It has gained bipartisan support, as acknowledged by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Meehan), our chairman.

Since the attacks of September 11, the urgent need to fill critical national security positions at times has led to actions that may have inadvertently heightened our vulnerability and fostered an over-reliance on private contractors. From a recruitment and retention standpoint, it is critical that the Department of Homeland Security clearly identifies job classifications for the cyber positions it seeks to fill. That was one of the major conclusions of the Cyber Skills Task Force that the Homeland Security Advisory Committee assembled at the request of then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in 2012.

I introduced the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act to implement a number of the task force's key recommendations.

First, the bill directs DHS to develop and issue comprehensive occupation classifications for persons performing activities in furtherance of the Department's cybersecurity missions.

Secondly, the bill requires the Secretary to assess the readiness and capacity of the Department to meet its cybersecurity mission. As part of the assessment, the Department has to identify where positions are located, whether these positions are vacant, and whether they are held by full-time employees or contractors.

Thirdly, the bill requires the Secretary to develop a comprehensive workforce strategy. This strategy will be implemented to enhance the readiness, capacity, training, recruitment, and retention of the Department's cybersecurity workforce.

Finally, the bill requires the Secretary to establish and maintain a process to verify that individuals employed by private contractors who serve in cybersecurity positions at the Department receive initial and recurrent information security training.

H.R. 3107 takes a holistic approach to the challenge of recruiting, training, and retraining the cybersecurity workforce that DHS needs.

I thank Ranking Member MEEHAN for all of his support and for all of the work that we have done together in a bipartisan way to bring this legislation to the floor, as well as the suite of cybersecurity legislation that we brought forth to the floor today.

I want to also thank the staff of both the committee and my office for the work and the diligence that they have put into bringing forth what I call real 21st century legislation. It is very important legislation. And our very way of life depends on its success.

Since 2008, the Department of Homeland Security has been the lead Federal civilian agency for cybersecurity. It has been responsible for working with Federal agencies to secure their IT networks, and the private sector, particularly critical infrastructure owners and operators, to raise the level of cyber hygiene and address threats in a timely manner.

My legislation will help ensure that DHS has the workforce it needs to execute these critical responsibilities. For that reason, I urge all of my colleagues to support H.R. 3107.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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