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12/17/2010
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Defense Dept Sets Private Sector IT Staff Swap

Improving the nation's cybersecurity defense is major goal of the workforce development program.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
The Department of Defense (DoD) has authorized an IT employee swap with the private sector so federal employees can get a glimpse of how things work in other technology departments and vice versa.

The department this week authorized a pilot program through an interim final rule published in the Federal Register.

"This pilot is envisioned to promote the interchange of DoD and private sector IT professionals to enhance skills and competencies," according to the description of it in the rule. "Given the changing workforce dynamics in the IT field, DoD needs to take advantage of these types of professional development programs to proactively position itself to keep pace with the changes in technology."

The swap in particular will be aimed at helping federal IT employees hone their cybesecurity skills.

DoD properties willing and available to participate in the pilot include the Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the Office of the DoD CIO, the Air Force, and the Army.

The Obama administration has aggressively promoted collaboration with the private sector to help the government improve its IT operations. In January, President Obama hosted 50 top private-sector CEOs at the White House for a summit aimed at helping the administration learn from businesses how to modernize federal IT systems.

Indeed, the DoD's move seems to be a precursor to an agency-wide technology fellows program U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra introduced as part of a 25-point IT reform strategy revealed last week.

As described by Kundra, the program will do exactly what the DoD's interim rule authorizes: allow IT employees from the federal government to temporarily trade places with contemporaries in the private sector so they can each learn from the other.

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