A bill that would establish a pilot program for civilian cybersecurity reserve personnel to supplement existing cyber workforces at the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security similar to the nation’s military reserve forces was approved unanimously by a Senate panel on Wednesday, sending the legislation to the Senate for consideration.
The Civilian Cyber Security Reserve Act (S. 1324) would also create a surge capacity for the departments to meet national security needs.
“As our nation faces unprecedented cyber attacks and federal agencies experience a consistent shortage of cyber talent, my bipartisan legislation will equip CISA with supplemental personnel needed to respond to significant cyber incidents and keep our nation safe at times of greatest need,” Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), said on Wednesday during a business meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which approved 15 bipartisan bills. “Maintaining a surge capacity will help ensure that the U.S. cyber workforce is well positioned to respond to significant cyber-attacks.”
CISA refers to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an operational component within DHS responsible for helping federal civilian agencies defend themselves from, and respond to, cyber-attacks and working with the private sector on a voluntary base to help secure their networks.
Rosen’s bill, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), would require DoD and DHS to provide guidance and implement cyber reserve pilot programs within 180 days of enactment. Within five years of pilots being authorized, DoD, DHS and the Government Accountability Office are directed to evaluate the project and recommend to Congress whether it should be modified, continued, or made permanent.
The committee also forwarded to the Senate the Supply Chain Security Training Act (S. 2201), authored by Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), which would require the General Services Administration to work with DoD, DHS and the Office of Management and Budget to create a standardized supply chain security training program for federal employees responsible for purchasing services and equipment to identify whether those products could compromise the government’s information security.
Under the K-12 Cybersecurity Act (S. 1917), authored b Peters and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), CISA would be required to work with local schools, federal agencies and private sector entities to study cybersecurity risks to kindergarten through 12th grade educational institutions, including risks to sensitive student and employee records and challenges to remote learning.
The committee also approved several bills that already passed the House, including the Homeland Security Acquisition Professional Career Program Act (H.R. 367), which establishes within DHS an acquisition professional career program to develop a cadre of acquisition professionals, the Department of Homeland Security Mentor-Protégé Program Act (H.R. 408), which reauthorizes the mentor-protégé program, and the Trusted Traveler Reconsideration and Restoration Act (H.R. 473), which directs GAO to review DHS trusted traveler programs for improvements to redress procedures.
All the bills were approved by voice vote en bloc.