Putnam promotes IT certifications for feds

Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) is working with administration officials and the CIO Council to figure out the best way to encourage federal employees to obtain certification in IT security, project management and other technology related fields.

The chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census hopes to elevate these IT professions through private-sector certifications and improve the overall skills of agency employees.

'There already is a process in place for employees to take continuing education, but we are looking at compensation considerations for earning certifications,' said Bob Dix, staff director for the subcommittee. 'This is another opportunity to provide a chance for the professional staff to expand their horizons, and the government would benefit from that.'

One area where agencies would benefit is certified IT security employees, Dix said.

'It is an important element in our overall approach to improving our cybersecurity profile that we have credentialed folks who are managing and operating these systems,' Dix said. 'We need to look at an attractive way of approaching that to encourage, incentivize and motivate folks to go in that direction.'

The State Department is running one effort. The agency has a pilot to provide IT security personnel a 10 percent pay increase if they receive certification from the private sector.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium is one of the organizations that certify IT security personnel. And the consortium announced today that the American National Standards Institute under ISO/IEC 17024 has accredited its certification program.

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional program becomes the first IT program to earn accreditation under this ISO standard, said Frances Schrotter, ANSI's chief operating officer.

The consortium includes 3,500 federal employees and is seeing an increase in the number of feds applying for certification, said James Duffy, the consortium's executive director, at an event in Washington announcing the accreditation.

'We have been certifying people for 10 years, but this asserts we meet those standards under ISO/IEC 17024,' he said. 'This ensures certified security personnel have a baseline knowledge of cybersecurity, that you can manage technology and build a business case to get funded.'

To receive certification from the consortium, an employee must have four years of experience in 10 security functional areas, such as access control, business continuity planning, operations security, physical security, and telecommunications, Internet and network security.

Then the employee must pass an exam testing their knowledge of these functions, and for those who pass, a co-worker or someone else must affirm they are qualified. There is a code of ethics employee must follow and to keep their certification current, employees must take 120 hours of professional education every three years, Duffy said.

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