WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense has not properly tracked its open civilian cyber jobs and risks missing goals to recruit more skilled cyber employees without a clear picture of workforce needs, a watchdog report released Aug. 2 said.

Leaders at the DoD and across the larger federal government have long called for filling a cyber skills gap by speeding up recruitment and ensuring competitive salaries with private sector. That need is only growing with increasing cyberattacks. All U.S. agencies had to implement a job-coding plan to document filled and unfilled cyber jobs, many for highly qualified personnel who perform information technology and cybersecurity.

The DoD was supposed to have started logging its jobs starting in 2018, but the Army was the only component with an automated quality assurance process to code its cyber workforce, according to the DoD inspector general report.

While the DoD established work role codes as required, many components did not code or incorrectly coded civilian workforce positions.

“Until the DoD Components’ application of work role codes is complete and accurate, the DoD may not have the information needed to identify and target the recruitment and retention programs to meet its greatest cyber workforce needs,” the inspector general said.

The report blacked out many mentions of specific positions and percentages of filled and unfilled positions. “With [REDACTED] percent of its filled and [REDACTED] percent of unfilled core positions not coded or coded incorrectly, the DoD may be unable to accurately determine the skill set and size of its civilian cyber workforce, which may hinder workforce planning activities, such as recruitment and retention strategies and determining the work roles of critical need.”

The acting DoD chief information officer agreed with the IG’s recommendations for components to complete work role coding by the end of 2021. The CIO is developing an automated dashboard to show components’ cyber workforce status.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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