Bipartisan bill would create public-private cyber workforce exchange

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world MORE (D-Minn.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal Trump dismisses legal questions on GOP nomination speech at White House MORE (R-S.D.) on Monday introduced a bipartisan bill to create an exchange program between the federal government and private firms aimed at bringing more cybersecurity expertise to the federal workforce.

The legislation, known as the “Cyber Security Exchange Act,” provides a path for cyber experts at private firms or academia to work for federal agencies for up to two years.

At the same time, federal workers would be given a chance to work in the private sector to brush up on the latest in cybersecurity practices.

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Klobuchar — who announced over the weekend that she is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential race — said in a statement that the government “needs additional cyber security experts to ensure we are not vulnerable to attacks from adversaries and cybercriminals.”

And Thune called the bill “a great opportunity for federal government agencies to tap into the vast cybersecurity resources that exist in the private sector and academia, as well as bolster the capabilities of their counterparts.” 

“Ensuring the cybersecurity of our nation is an all-hands priority, and the exchange of ideas and best practices that this bill would facilitate would better position our national security community to tackle the cyber threats of the future,” the South Dakota Republican said in a statement.

Gaps in the cybersecurity workforce have been a concern for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The Senate Homeland Security Committee is set this week to take up a bill that would allow federal staff working on cyber to cycle through other agencies.

Klobuchar has introduced cybersecurity legislation in the past, including the Secure Elections Act, which aimed at safeguarding elections from cyberattacks but stalled out in the last Congress.

And she used her campaign launch Saturday to call for net neutrality and demand accountability for tech giants that collect the data of users.

“We need to put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to privacy,” Klobuchar said during her speech. “For too long the big tech companies have been telling you, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got your back' while your identities in fact are being stolen and your data is being mined. Our laws need to be as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them.”

-- Updated at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 13