Retrained agency employees can be a key source of cybersecurity talent, NSC official says

Carten Cordell
March 8, 2018

As the government embraces new technology and looks for the right people to utilize it, federal agencies might have no choice but to develop unexpected sources of talent, a White House official said Thursday.

Estimates put the national cybersecurity labor shortage at approximately 285,000 open positions, said Tyson Meadors, the National Security Council’s director of cybersecurity policy. To fill at least some of those gaps in the federal government, officials should start looking to retrain their current employees, he said.

“One thing we know we need to do is create some kind of aptitude test that is targeted not toward the accession cyber, but from the retraining side,” he said. “So who is your accountant that could actually be a keyboard ninja. That is going to be where we are going to find our own sort of magical unicorns — inside our own organizations.”

Meadors spoke at the Association for Federal Information Resources Management’s Cybersecurity Summit, where the resounding message was that a significant dearth of cybersecurity talent presents agency officials with possibly a greater challenge than their IT modernization efforts.

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It Takes More Than Tech Skills To Be a Strong Cyber Leader

Aaron Boyd
March 8, 2018

Becoming a successful cybersecurity executive requires more than just understanding the tech. If you want to rise through the ranks—either in government or in the private sector—it helps to have an education that goes beyond computer sciences.

“I got made fun of a lot: I actually have a degree in English,” Tyson Meadors, director of cybersecurity policy on the National Security Council, said during a keynote at the March 8 Annual Cybersecurity Summit hosted by the U.S. Cyber Challenge and the Association for Federal Information Resources Management. “Also in IT, computer science and cybersecurity—I have other degrees, too—but that English degree comes in real handy when you’re trying to explain what a memcached DDoS is to somebody who doesn’t know what ‘mem,’ ‘cached,’ ‘D,’ ‘D,’ ‘o,’ or ‘S’ means. So, ultimately that becomes a pretty important skill as you get higher up in your careers.”

In other words, it helps to be able to clearly explain how your systems were attacked when asking for money to remediate or prevent such attacks in the future.

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Francesca El-Attrash
March 8, 2018

Cybersecurity is a dynamic and crosscutting field that is ever changing and increasingly challenging to address. At the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM)’s 5th Annual Cybersecurity Summit, government thought leaders gathered to explore growing threats as well as innovative approaches to attract and retain the best cyber talent.

Nicole Blake Johnson, Managing Editor at GovLoop, moderated a panel of federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) to discuss current cybersecurity priorities and how to attract, retain and train a dwindling pipeline of cyber talent. Speaking on the panel were:

-Max Everett, CIO at the Energy Department

-Joe Klimavicz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and CIO at the Justice Department

-Rodney Petersen, Director of the National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education (NICE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

-Howard Whyte, CIO at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

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White House hints at new cyber policies

Federal Computer Weekly
Mark Rockwell
March 8, 2018

The White House is poised to begin acting on recommendations that came from its first cybersecurity directive, issued last May, a top cybersecurity policy official said.

"The series of reports [required under Executive Order 13800] are almost all in,” Tyson Meadors, director for cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council, said at AFFIRM’s March 8 cybersecurity summit in Arlington, Va. “Now we’re starting to look at how do we enact those recommendations. … I’m almost certain you’re going to see stuff that reflects those recommendations in the next month, or month and a half, that directly reflect some of those reports."

The cyber executive order outlined several different strategic goals for the federal government. Meadors and other cybersecurity experts at the summit, however, stressed that the cybersecurity workforce is the linchpin needed to hold all those efforts together.

Meadors' comments came just a day after lawmakers pressed Department of Homeland Security officials how they plan to account for gaps in that agency's cybersecurity workforce, following a critical watchdog report on DHS' efforts.

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Tackling Cybersecurity Workforce Challenges in Government & Industry

U.S. Cyber Challenge & AFFIRM Host 5th Annual Cybersecurity Summit

Arlington, VA, February 26, 2018 – Next week, U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) and the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) will host their 5th Annual Cybersecurity Summit on Thursday, March 8, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. The event will focus on workforce development issues and bring together leadership panels of chief information officers and chief information security officers from government and industry to discuss imposing cyber threats, the difficulties to fill vacant cybersecurity positions throughout the government agencies, and creative solutions to tackle these problems. Tyson Meadors, the Director for Cybersecurity Policy for the National Security Council, will provide the morning keynote address and Christine Calvosa, the Acting Chief Information Officer for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will be the closing keynote.

Event Details:

Date:                Thursday, March 8, 2018

Time:               7:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Location:         CenturyLink, 4250 North Fairfax Drive, Second Floor, Arlington, VA 22203


Speakers & Panelists:

Jerrod Bates, Information Security Instructor, Delaware Technical Community College

Tina Bohse, Director of Special Program Sales, CenturyLink Strategic Government

Christine Calvosa, Acting CIO, FCC

Chris Dorobek, GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER

Karen S. Evans, National Director, US Cyber Challenge

Max Everett, Chief Information Officer, Department of Energy

Adrian Gardner, CIO, Federal Emergency Management Agency and VP, AFFIRM

Ira Hobbs, Principal, Hobbs and Hobbs, LLC, Master of Ceremonies

Joe Klimavicz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief Information Officer, DOJ

Randy Marchany, Chief Information Security Officer, Virginia Tech

Tyson Meadors, Director for Cybersecurity Policy, National Security Council
Jason Miller, Federal News Radio

Bill Newhouse, Deputy Director, National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Rodney Petersen, Director of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Tim Ruland, Chief IT Security Officer, US Census Bureau

Ed Rhyne, Program Manager, Cyber Security Division, Science & Technology, US Department of Homeland Security

Howard Whyte, Chief Information Officer, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation


To register for the event, visit  For media attendance, please contact Arielle Retrosi at If you have any questions about the program, contact the AFFIRM office at 703-778-4646 or

Sponsors supporting the Cybersecurity Summit include Accenture Federal Services, a strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations firm; CenturyLink, a global communications, hosting, cloud and IT services company; Cyber Ninjas, a security-oriented consulting services company; Defense Point Security, a cyber security service provider for both government and commercial industry; NIC, an eGovernment services company; Sherman Consulting, Inc., an international advisory firm; and Wright Image Design, in-kind photography.


About US Cyber Challenge:

U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) is a program supported by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate through a contract with the Center for Internet Security, a 501(c)3 organization, and has the mission to significantly reduce the shortage in the cyber workforce by serving as the premier program to identify, attract, recruit and place the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.  USCC’s goal is to find 10,000 of America’s best and brightest to fill the ranks of cybersecurity professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation. Visit and follow @USCybChallenge.



The Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) is a non-profit, volunteer, educational organization whose overall purpose is to improve the management of information and related systems and resources within the Federal government.  Founded in 1979 and based in the Washington, DC area, AFFIRM’s members include information resources management professionals from the Federal, academic, and industry sectors.  In supporting this purpose, AFFIRM seeks to provide its members with professional development opportunities in three key focus areas of IT education, networking, and interaction with policymakers.  For further information on AFFIRM’s programs and scholarship contributions, visit and follow @AFFIRMtweets for updates.


Contact:  Katie Hanson
Phone:    847-337-1818


USDA to rename Client Technology Services under IT modernization drive

Federal News Radio
By: Jory Heckman

Friday, February 23, 2018

As part of an ongoing federal information technology modernization, the Agriculture Department plans to rename one of its IT service providers to reflect a doubling down on customer service.

Rory Schultz, a client executive at USDA, said Thursday during an AFFIRM panel discussion that the agency’s Client Technology Services would rebrand itself as the Customer Experience Center, effective March 2, and would reflect a new focus on enterprise end-user services under Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“There’s a complete emphasis on customer … This is what our secretary said, and this is what we’re going to be implementing,” Schultz said Thursday during an AFFIRM panel discussion.

Since December, USDA has been working with the General Services Administration and the Office of American Innovation to pilot a centers of excellence program that would bring the public and private sectors together to help implement the White House’s finalized IT Modernization Strategy.

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Women leaders in federal tech urge developing diverse talent pool

Federal News Radio
By: Jory Heckman

Thursday, January 25, 2018

For years, the federal government has experienced challenges around recruiting young talent, fresh out of college, for information technology jobs. It’s also had some challenges in trying to diversify the federal workforce. Where those areas overlap, the problem can be felt more acutely.

Last year, the Office of Personnel Management reported that women comprised more than 43 percent of the federal workforce. However, the agency also found that in 2015, only about 70,000 women worked in STEM-related career fields in the federal government in 2015.

During an AFFIRM panel discussion Thursday, several women in federal technology management positions called on hiring officials to help broaden the diversity of the federal workforce, and to empower women to climb the career ladder at their agencies.

Renee Macklin, the Commerce Department’s director of IT enterprise services, said a diverse workforce is best suited to take on her team’s mission, which now includes a rollout of shared services across the department.

“I do believe that everybody brings something to the table, and diversity is so important when you’re trying to solve some of the problems that we deal with in technology, because everybody brings a different point of view,” Macklin said. “And no point of view is, ‘This is the only way.’ And I think, when you embrace that,  and understand that you need each other in that whole diversity realm, you get a better solution. ”

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Women in federal IT should move around to move up, says panel

Federal Times
By: Jessie Bur
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Click here to view original article.

The key to achieving leadership positions as a woman in the federal IT workforce is a willingness to move often to the best opportunity, according to current and former senior-level IT officials who spoke at the “Trailblazing Women in Government” luncheon hosted by the Association for Federal Information Resource Management on Thursday, Jan. 25.

“What I would encourage folks to do is to move around, try different positions and also be really open to new experiences in life. Don’t limit yourself, try not to stay in one organization for a really long time. I would say every five or six years start thinking about moving and going on,” said Adriane Burton, chief information officer at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resource and Services Administration.

Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of women serving in the Senior Executive Service has hovered between 33 to 35 percent, according to a 2017 Office of Personnel Management report on SES employees. This means that most leadership positions in the government are still held by men.

In 2016, women also held only 25 percent of the nation’s tech jobs, according to a report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Stacy Dawn, assistant director for privacy and security compliance at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Information Technology, explained that moving up the professional ladder in government requires a breadth of experiences, which can often only be gained from working a variety of positions.

“Apply for every promotion that looks interesting to you, because let them tell you if you’re the best qualified. Because you might think it’s interesting, you might be a little unsure, but they’re going to pick the best qualified and if that is you, then you own that job,” said Dawn.

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What's Stalling Progress for Women at Work?

McKinsey & Company
Thursday, January 5, 2017

Corporate America's gender-diversity programs are falling short. Companies need to think differently to ignite change.

Podcast transcript

Simon London: Hello, and welcome to this edition of the McKinsey Podcast. I’m Simon London, an editor with McKinsey Publishing. Today, we’re going to be talking about women in the workplace. That is, the representation and career progression of women in big companies and upper organizations. Joining me here in our Silicon Valley office are McKinsey partner Alexis Krivkovich and senior partner Eric Kutcher. They’ve helped lead groundbreaking research on gender diversity in corporate America. Alexis and Eric, thank you very much for being here today.

Eric Kutcher: Thank you for having us.

Alexis Krivkovich: Thank you.

Simon London: Let’s start with a 30,000-foot question. McKinsey has done quite a lot of research over a number of years now on this topic. Why does it matter to us? Why does it matter for our clients? What makes it a pressing management issue?

Eric Kutcher: The first thing for most companies that have recognized this as an issue is it’s very much a strategic issue. And the reason it’s so strategic is that we know, from all the research that we’ve done and others have done, is diversity, broadly — and I think it largely comes from diversity of thought and diversity of the way we solve problems — actually leads to better outcomes. And you can show a very high correlation between more diverse organizations (and gender diversity being a very big part of that) and actual company performance. It’s not that surprising when you think about it, because if you think about where talent comes from, and the war for talent, or the desire to really ensure that we get the best talent in an organization, how can you possibly get the best talent if you’re not pulling from the fullness of the talent pool?

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