DHS Explores Higher Salaries for Cyber Workforce

A new Department of Homeland Security solicitation is one of the federal government’s latest initiatives in the fight to hire and retain cybersecurity talent.

DHS plans to offer a single-award contract called Cybersecurity Compensation System Support Services, under which the winning contractor would help determine competitive compensation levels needed to build and maintain a high-quality cybersecurity workforce. The vendor would use its compensation expertise to design and operate a compensation system that uses business rules, processes, and policies to manage compensation, according to the draft solicitation. DHS seeks leading compensation methods that cybersecurity-focused organizations use from compensation specialists.

Photo credit: Bloomberg media

The contract would be one piece of DHS’s larger Cybersecurity Talent Management System (CTMS), a civilian personnel talent management system. As part of the program, DHS is exploring paying differently in different fields to compensate cybersecurity professionals competitively.

DHS plans to host an industry day and will issue the final solicitation March 16 — after accepting feedback and questions through March 9.

Selection will occur in two phases. First phase submissions, with a planned due date of March 22, must include corporate experience and reference checks. Those highly rated will be notified to proceed to the second phase, with submissions due March 29. The second phase includes an oral presentation and submissions that include pricing, technical understanding, and management approach. Oral presentations will follow for a week starting March 31. DHS plans to award the contract April 29.

The period of performance is one base year and four option years. Bloomberg Government anticipates the contract could be worth up to $10 million over the potential five-year period of performance.

BGOV’s Take

The contract is more important from a strategic perspective than a competitive win for a cybersecurity vendor.

Neither CTMS nor Cybersecurity Compensation System is an information technology system, and these efforts could eventually reduce the need for cybersecurity services from the private sector, especially if they lead to hiring and retaining high-quality cyber talent, and more if other agencies adopt the resulting hiring strategies.

This opportunity attempts to solve a difficult, ongoing problem across the federal government: Hire and retain top talent in IT, and cybersecurity more specifically. Agencies have tried to lure IT professionals into government positions with offers of benefits, new skills, and a sense of service because salary restrictions are so difficult to overcome. As a result of this solicitation, DHS will take a different approach and offer more money, but how much more and the impact on the private sector is to be determined.

To contact the analyst on this story: Laura Criste in Salt Lake City, Utah at lcriste@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Clark at mclark@ic.bloombergindustry.com

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