Cybersecurity is the biggest challenge, priority for federal CIOs, survey finds

Dive Brief:

  • Federal government CIOs and CISOs are making progress coordinating on cyber issues, but they are challenged by the federal government’s aging infrastructure and the investments needed to address it, according to the 26th annual federal CIO survey, conducted by the Professional Services Council in partnership with Grant Thornton.  
  • For federal CIOs, cybersecurity is their most pressing concern, top priority and their biggest challenge. 
  • The 41 CIOs, CISOs and information technology officials from 23 different agencies said IT modernization, securing tech talent and the IT acquisition process are also top concerns. 

Dive Insight:

In April, security risk benchmarking startup SecurityScorecard said U.S. federal, state and local government agencies rank lowest in cybersecurity when compared to the private sector. The report examined cybersecurity efforts across 10 categories, including malware infection, vulnerability to social engineering techniques and how often passwords are exposed.

Its no surprise that federal government agencies are struggling with cybersecurity. Recently, the government has suffered large-scale breaches at the Office of Personnel Management and the IRS, which have resulting in huge data losses.

The issues the federal government is facing when it comes to technology are not unique, but problems are often exacerbated by the talent shortage and dated systems. 

Federal CIOs surveyed reported talent was another huge challenge in helping them address cybersecurity issues, stating that hiring rules need to change to make it easier to recruit and offer competitive pay to new cybersecurity talent. Respondents said little progress has been made to make compensation for federal IT professionals more competitive.

In April, a memo authored by Beth Cobert, acting director of the OPM, said cybersecurity remains an "at risk" career field in the federal government. At the time, Cobert said agency experts and chief human capital officers will work together to develop a strategy "to address the root causes for why an occupation has been deemed "at risk,'" according to the memo. The Department of Homeland Security also recently revealed it was having a difficult time recruiting cybersecurity experts.

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Filed Under: Security
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