The Department of Homeland Security should use detailees from the National Security Agency in order to beef up its technical expertise said Stewart Baker, a former official from both agencies, at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

The reason for this is that DHS is having trouble hiring cybersecurity experts of its own, since they are in high demand in the private sector, Baker noted. Under an employee sharing program, NSA’s detailees could operate under the limits of DHS’s authority, Baker suggested.

The NSA has been able to retain more cybersecurity personnel than the DHS, since the NSA has maintained a culture where employees stay at the agency for decades, Baker said. NSA has also benefited from a solid reputation as the premier agency for engineers and cyber experts. DHS, on the other hand, has ranked on the low-end of employee satisfaction surveys since it was created 10 years ago.

But while NSA professionals are tackling sexy cyber missions from cryptology to offensive cyber operations, DHS has been labeled the agency responsible for the nation’s cybersecurity – meaning it needs the kind of cyber talent already at work at NSA.

“DHS needs to be borrowing personnel and capability from NSA, bringing them over, making them part of the career progression within NSA,” Baker said.

Congress could expand DHS’s cybersecurity authority if the department had more technical expertise, said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

Baker gave the DHS two grades on cybersecurity – “a B-plus for defending its turf but a D-plus for actually making us safer.” He offered support for an executive order on cybersecurity. The Obama administration is supposedly already at work on a cybersecurity executive order, following failed efforts at cybersecurity legislation in Congress.

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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, AllBusiness.com, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine, ClearanceJobs.com, 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.
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