Trump Orders Review of Cybersecurity Education, Workforce-Development Efforts

By Benjamin Herold — May 11, 2017 1 min read
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A new executive order signed today by President Donald Trump aims to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity, including through a multiagency review of related education and workforce-development efforts.

The U.S. Department of Education will be part of the multiagency review, which will be led by the federal secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security. The order calls for a report to be completed within 120 days:

The secretary of Commerce and the secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the secretary of Defense, the secretary of Labor, the secretary of Education, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, and other agencies identified jointly by the secretary of Commerce and the secretary of Homeland Security, shall: (A) jointly assess the scope and sufficiency of efforts to educate and train the American cybersecurity workforce of the future, including cybersecurity-related education curricula, training, and apprenticeship programs, from primary through higher education; and (B) within 120 days of the date of this order, provide a report to the president, through the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, with findings and recommendations regarding how to support the growth and sustainment of the nation’s cybersecurity workforce in both the public and private sectors.

The main thrust of the order is on strengthening federal information-technology networks and protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. The responsibility for mitigating cybersecurity risks will now lie with the heads of federal agencies.

Trump was originally expected to sign an executive order on cybersecurity in January, shortly after his inauguration, but the plan was delayed.

Among the apparent points of tension: the role of U.S. military and national-security agencies. An early draft of the order, published by The Washington Post, included a provision directing the U.S. secretaries of the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to review the country’s cybersecurity education efforts and make recommendations for improvement. Relative to that draft, the order signed Thursday elevated the Commerce Department and minimized the role of the Defense Department in that review.

In March, Education Week published a review of the country’s K-12 cybersecurity education efforts. Eight federal agencies, as well as the National Governors Association, currently support a wide assortment of cybersecurity-related education and workforce-development initiatives.

Among the challenges to scaling up such efforts: developing strong curricular materials, fitting cybersecurity education into an already crowded school day and curriculum, and finding qualified teachers.

Trump is not the first president to sign an executive order on the subject. In December 2016, a national cybersecurity commission established by President Barack Obama recommended new public-private partnerships—both to better secure the country’s information-technology infrastructure and to train 150,000 new cybersecurity workers.

Photo: President Donald Trump calls on a reporter during a news conference, Feb. 16, in the East Room of the White House. Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.