The Defense Department is hoping to improve employee’s IT expertise, particularly in cyber security, by sending federal employees to work in the private sector through a new pilot program.

The program, launched by the Defense Department, will send key IT professionals from the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force and Army to work at private sector companies to “enhance skills and competencies.”

“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 department wrote in the interim rule.

Employees will still be employed and paid by the government, but can work in the private sector anywhere from three months to two years. Private sector employees can also work in a government role, but will still be employed and paid by their private sector company. Yet no more than 10 private sector employees can participate in the pilot program at any given time and they must start before the end of September 2013.

The program will help government agencies and employees learn and identify new technology trends said Stan Soloway, president and chief executive of industry association the Professional Services Council.

However, the program already has its critics: “Inviting private-sector IT employees into the Pentagon could jeopardize national security unless there are severe restrictions imposed on their access to confidential and secret information,” said Don Hale, chair of the AFGE Defense Conference. “I have serious doubts that the same level of scrutiny applies to private sector IT employees, and that national security could be comprised during the exchange.”

Yet private sector employees will be required to obtain appropriate security clearance relative to the position, the proposed rule states.

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Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO,, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine,, and the San Jose Business Journal. Chandler is also engaged in helping companies further their content marketing needs through content strategy, optimization and creation, as well as blogging and social media platforms. When he's not writing, Chandler enjoys his beach haunt of Santa Cruz where he rides roller coasters with his son, surfs and bikes across mountain ranges.