Pentagon officials have said that they are using the special hiring and compensation authorities enacted into law in recent years in recruiting and retaining employees in cyber-related fields, an occupational area where the government in general has problems in competing with the private sector for talent.
Official said at a recent hearing that they are still working to comply with the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act of 2015, which required all federal agencies to better track positions performing IT, cybersecurity, and other cyber-related functions. However, they said that the effort so far has been valuable in identifying some 65,000 positions—out of a total workforce of about 750,000—who fall into those categories.
Of those, about a tenth, across nearly a dozen components, have been converted into a “cyber excepted service” created under a separate law.
Yet other laws created a series of direct hire authorities for positions with critical hiring needs, which were used in hiring about a third of employees hired into all cyber fields since 2019, while reducing average time-to-hire from 117 to 89 days, they said.
They also cited use of several pay authorities—including special rate pay, hiring at above step 1 of a grade, and pay supplements—and incentives such as student loan repayments and recruitment and retention incentives. In addition, they said DoD is working to carry out a new authority under its current-year budget to provide special pay incentives for proficiency in computer or digital programming languages.