The Department of Homeland Security needs a nudge from industry to help it get across the finish line on implementing its solution to solving the cybersecurity workforce shortage that’s hurting both the public and private sector.

The DHS Cybersecurity Statutory Authority Program Office, a subcomponent of DHS’ Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO), is working with several department components to operationalize a new cybersecurity personnel management system, called the Cybersecurity Talent Management System. That system is supposed to change the way DHS manages its cyber workforce and help it better compete for cybersecurity talent with industry.

Through the new talent management system, the department wants to find new ways for describing work, identifying and encouraging applicants, managing career progression and evaluating employees. DHS hopes to hire 150 new cybersecurity employees in fiscal year 2020, according to the notice.

“DHS is exploring innovative, agile, and strategic approaches to the implementation and operation of this system to quickly address cybersecurity staffing requirements,” the DHS notice read.

The notice was released in anticipation of DHS OCHCO’s industry day Dec. 9.

The DHS OCHCO is trying to achieve three objectives through its engagement with industry. The department’s first objective is to receive support in the ongoing process in designing, launching and refining the system. To achieve that objective, the department needs talent management strategy support, with department officials pointing to specific items like workforce planning, talent development.

It also needs “talent experience support,” which it identifies as several steps along the employee lifecycle, ranging from applicant management to onboarding, as well as training and assignment of work. According the notice, DHS needs vendors with federal government HR expertise and experience recruiting cybersecurity talent. It also wants a vendor currently supporting current contracts for similar services at other agencies like the Office of Personnel Management.

Its second objective calls on industry to help DHS with “designing and developing employment branding and marketing materials.” The goal is to increase interest in cybersecurity work at DHS, engage with potential and current applicants, while also maintaining a consistent message on cybersecurity work at the department.

Through its third objective, talent acquisition, DHS looks to improve its ability to attract talent. The department wants to have a diverse applicant pool, create a cybersecurity pipeline and use digital tools to headhunt for cybersecurity talent. DHS is looking for vendors with expertise in viable strategies to talent acquisition and the challenges associated with it.

Among other indicators, DHS will measure the success of the program through increased offer acceptance rates, retention rates and employee engagement indices.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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