Increasing the Effectiveness of the Federal Role in Cybersecurity Education

October 2015 - In 2014, the Center for Internet Security and Deloitte and Touche LLP engaged the National Academy of Public Administration to identify ways to improve the federal role in the nation’s cybersecurity education efforts. This project was led by a four-member Panel of Academy Fellows with expertise in cybersecurity, performance metrics, and defense education.

In particular, this study examines two of the nation's leading cybersecurity education programs - the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense (CAE) program and the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. This report covers various aspects of these programs, including funding, performance indicators, curriculum, and designation standards.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Panel found that the lack of federal funding for the CAE program limits its ability to achieve its original intended goal of growing the overall cybersecurity workforce. The SFS program, in contrast, is equipped with ample federal funding that allows for greater financial flexibility and the ability to provide scholarships to aspiring cybersecurity students willing to begin their careers in the public sector, broadly defined. Due to this stark contrast in funding, the Panel issued several recommendations designed to enhance coordination between the two programs and improve the overall effectiveness of the nation's cybersecurity education efforts:

  • Strengthen the hands-on education component in both the CAE and SFS programs;
  • Identify, track, and use performance indicators for both the CAE and SFS programs;
  • Expand the SFS program to address the entire public sector (federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments) by default as opposed to special permission and include qualified two-year programs regardless of their association with a four-year institution; and
  • Emphasize to the Department of Defense (DOD) senior leadership, including the Secretary of Defense, the importance of the CAE program for growing the federal cybersecurity workforce.