Legislation led by Rounds seeks to expand cybersecurity workforce

Legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) last week would revamp the nation’s cybersecurity workforce by modernizing an existing Department of Defense (DoD) scholarship program for cybersecurity degree programs.

The DoD Cyber Scholarship Program Act would authorize $10 million for the scholarship fund in fiscal year 2018, and it would expand access to scholarships to students of community colleges as they embark on careers that support national security.

“As our reliance on technology in everyday life continues to grow, so does our threat of cyberattacks which could significantly disrupt our economy and weaken our national security,” Rounds, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, said.

“This expanding threat underscores the need to recruit and train cybersecurity professionals. In particular, our national shortage of these experts impacts the Defense Department’s ability to accomplish its cyber missions,” Rounds said.

Under the measure, at least 5 percent of scholarship funds would be required to go to two-year associate’s degree programs at institutions designated “Centers of Academic Excellence” by the National Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who introduced the bipartisan bill with Rounds, said a highly trained cyber workforce is essential to addressing the United States’ growing cybersecurity challenges.