A Treasury Department IG report has raised another of many warnings across government about shortages of employees with cybersecurity skills, adding that another persistent federal workplace problem–the backlog of security clearance investigations–is worsening the situation.
In a report on management challenges facing the department, the IG noted that “the backlog of background investigations in the clearance process has been a growing concern government-wide,” citing the GAO’s decision early this year to designate it as a high-risk area outside its normal cycle for making those designations. Delays in getting clearances have been cited as a main reason that persons with in-demand cybersecurity and other IT skills withdraw from consideration by federal agencies–or never seek federal employment in the first place.
Said the IG, “This has been contributing to difficulty in recruiting cybersecurity personnel as our previous audits of select Treasury bureaus found that causes for many of our findings related to information systems security measures involved a lack of resources and/or management oversight, which echoed GAO’s and OMB’s observations of agencies’ impairments.”
“Although progress has been made filling some positions, it is essential that the vacancies Treasury-wide be filled as quickly as possible . . . The lengthy hiring and backfill timelines are negatively impacting existing personnel’s ability to carry out bureau programs,” it said.
Cybersecurity is especially important at Treasury, it added, because not only does the department need to protect its own systems, it is central to the security of banking and other financial networks vital to the national economy.