Legislation Would Establish Cybersecurity Reserve Programs At Departments Of Defense & Homeland Security
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are introducing a legislative package of two bills that will strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity workforce and support the federal response to cyber threats. These bipartisan bills would establish Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve pilot programs within the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to recruit qualified civilian cybersecurity personnel to serve in reserve capacities to ensure the U.S. government has the talent needed to defeat, deter, or respond to malicious cyber activity, especially at times of greatest need.
“Cybersecurity threats targeting the United States continue to grow in scale and scope, demonstrating the urgent need for robust civilian cyber reserves capable of addressing these threats and protecting our nation,” said Senator Rosen. “Our bipartisan legislation will help ensure the U.S. government can leverage existing cybersecurity talent from the private sector to help our nation deter and swiftly respond to cyberattacks.”
“As the cyber domain continues to expand in size and complexity, so should our cyber workforce,” said Senator Blackburn. “By creating a reserve corps similar to our National Guard or Army Reserve, we can ensure the U.S. has qualified, capable, and service-oriented American talent that is necessary to address cyber vulnerabilities and keep our nation secure.”
“The Solarium Commission understands the clear need for an ability to surge qualified cybersecurity personnel to support the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security during a crisis,” said Mark Montgomery, Executive Director of CSC 2.0. “These bills provide a pilot program to address this exact challenge. This readiness problem has been identified for several years, it needs to be addressed now.”
Earlier this month, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Rosen asked the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, about the importance of having a civilian cyber reserve to support U.S. Cyber Command’s cyberspace operations. In his response, General Nakasone spoke favorably about the intended goal of this legislation.
Federal agencies are experiencing a growing shortage of cybersecurity talent. According to the Government Accountability Office, the consistent shortage of cyber security personnel represents a high risk to national security. This legislative packageis modeled after recommendations from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service report and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission report to establish a civilian cyber reserve corps. Under these bills, participation in the Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve would be voluntary and by invitation only and would not include members of the military Selected Reserve.
As the first and only former computer programmer to serve in the Senate, Senator Rosen has been a leader in the fight to strengthen cybersecurity for America’s critical infrastructure and defend the United States from cyberattacks. Last Congress, Senator Rosen introduced her bipartisan Healthcare Cybersecurity Act, which would improve cybersecurity in the Health Care and Public Health Sector. Senator Rosen has introduced bipartisan bills to bolster the cybersecurity of medical devices and records from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the latter of which was signed into law. Last year, she led a bipartisan group of 22 senators in a letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking for a briefing on how the Department of Homeland Security is protecting Americans from possible Russian cyberattacks.