The Department of Defense (DoD) has sped up the hiring process via its new Cyber Excepted Services (CES), which allows employees to be hired in less than half the time it took to hire them under previous competitive services. That’s according to General Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, who spoke before members of the House Armed Services Committee last week.

Under CES, the average time-to-hire was about 44 days compared to the 111 days before CYBERCOM implemented the excepted service.

“We have done over 21 different fairs,” Nakasone told the House Armed Service Committee. “We’ve interviewed over 2,700 people. We’ve provided over 90 acceptances for job applications. My perspective, early phase, is I’m a supporter of it. I look forward to continuing to utilize it.”

CES was created under Section 1599f of Title 10, Chapter 81, United States Code, and received authorization by Congress in fiscal year 2016. It was established as an enterprise-wide approach for managing civilian cyber professionals working for the DoD.

To implement these authorities, DoD submitted an implementation plan to Congress in June 2016 – whereby the Office of the DoD Chief Information Officer (DoD CIO), acting in partnership with the Principal Cyber Advisor (PCA), the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness (USD(P&R)), and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I)), developed the first four policies for implementing this new personnel system.

CES implementation and hiring then began in August 2017 with Phase 1 organizations United States Cyber Command, Joint Force Headquarters; DoD Information Networks; and Office of the Deputy Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity.

The service provides needed agility and flexibilities for the recruitment, retention, and development of high quality cyber professionals.

“Recruiting and retaining highly-trained cyberspace operations professionals has been a recognized challenge to the Department of Defense for the last couple of decades,” said Col. Laurie Moe Buckhout, U.S. Army (Ret), CEO and president of consulting firm Corvus.

“Clearly, global nation state competitors have been very busy in leveraging their own citizens to attempt to gain cyber superiority,” Buckhout told ClearanceJobs. “Our military services have been dealing with the challenge of cyber manpower through intensive recruiting and retention efforts, but it has been a challenge to find and retain cyber professionals on the government civilian side.”

Retaining trained cyber workers has been an issue for the DoD, and last September it was reported that it lost thousands of civilian employees, mainly in IT management and computer science-related positions.

“Most of the job losses that we’ve seen here over the past year or so total about 4,000 civilian cyber-related personnel,” Essye Miller, DOD’s principal deputy CIO, told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Personnel and Cybersecurity subcommittees last September.

Miller added that the Cyber Excepted Service is mission-essential effort to attract and retain the cyber workers the DoD needs.

“By fostering a culture based upon mission requirements and employee capabilities, Cyber Excepted Service will enhance the effectiveness of the Department’s cyber defensive and offensive mission,” Miller added. “This personnel system will provide DoD with the needed agility and flexibility for the recruitment, retention and development of high quality cyber professionals. Specifically, the CES will help DoD to streamline its hiring procedures to quickly fill vacant mission-critical cyber positions across the Enterprise. CES lets DoD Hiring Managers recruit candidates from any source and offer more competitive market based compensation packages.”

CES should help streamline DoD’s hiring and allow it to fill its vacancies in a timely manner. This could be important since IT jobs are in demand and employees can be choosy when it comes to their next opportunity.

“With a lucrative civilian job market, the rigid and sometimes slow moving government sector has not been as attractive to many cyber professionals, yet their presence is so critical, especially for continuity, in most organizations,” explained Buckhout. “Although many cyber personnel have been leery of the cumbersome and less lucrative civilian work force option, the new CES construct promises flexibility in recruiting, potentially allowing people to enter into service at higher levels, and very importantly, flexibility in compensating cyber personnel commensurate with their industry and commercial peers.”

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.