As the government struggles to hire skilled workers to fend off hackers, cyberattacks on federal agencies are up between 50 and 100 percent in the past year.
A new survey by the Professional Services Council found that at least 28 percent of chief information officers at federal agencies reported an increase in cyberattacks of 51 to 100 percent over the past year.
The increasing threat of cyber hacks against the government isn’t surprising. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office listed federal IT operations as one of the most serious weaknesses in the federal government and in its annual “High Risk” report, the GAO labeled this vulnerability a major threat to national security.
Just last week, the Obama administration announced that Chinese cyber thieves hacked into the Office of Personnel Management’s massive government data system and accessed more than 4 million federal workers’ personal data. ABC News reported that the hackers potentially gained access to some Cabinet member data as well.
In the aftermath of the breach, President Obama called on agencies to ramp up cyber security efforts. However, the problem, according to the PSC survey, is that the government is having trouble recruiting skilled cyber experts.
Some 63 percent of CIOs reported that their agencies were not sufficiently prepared to develop necessary talent. Most cited limited resources and government salaries as obstacles to competing with employers in the private sector.
Commerce Department CIO Steve Cooper said hiring young people is a major challenge. The average age of Commerce employees is about 50 years old, NextGov noted.
The CIOs’ responses are in line with a separate GAO report from earlier this year that found there is a major skills gap within the federal workforce when it comes to IT and cybersecurity.
The Great Recession hit state budgets hard, but nearly half are now prepared to weather the next modest downturn. Moody’s Analytics says that 23 states have enough reserves to meet budget shortfalls in a moderate economic contraction, up from just 16 last year, Bloomberg reports. Another 10 states are close. The map below shows which states are within 1 percent of their funding needs for their rainy day funds (in green) and which states are falling short.
The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed in August included 77 F-35 Lightning II jets for the Defense Department, but Congress decided to bump up that number in the defense spending bill finalized this week, for a total of 93 in the next fiscal year – 16 more than requested by the Pentagon. Here’s a look from Forbes at the evolving per unit cost of the stealth jet, which is expected to eventually fall to roughly $80 million when full-rate production begins in the next few years.
Average hourly earnings last month rose by 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday — the fastest wage growth since the recession ended in 2009. The economy added 201,000 jobs in August, marking the 95th straight month of gains, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9 percent.
Analysts noted, though, that the welcome wage gains merely kept pace with a leading measure of inflation, meaning that pay increases are largely or entirely being canceled out by higher prices. “The last time unemployment was this low, during the dot-com boom, wage growth was significantly faster — well above 3.5 percent,” The Washington Post’s Heather Long wrote. The White House Council of Economic Advisers this week issued a report arguing that wage gains over the past year have been better than they appear in official statistics.
“Tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product is expected to be 16.5 percent next year. The long-term average in a full-employment economy is 18.5 percent of GDP; if revenue were at that level for the coming decade, debt would be $3.2 trillion lower and the 10-year fiscal gap would be halved. Returning to past revenue levels, however, will be inadequate over time, because an aging population will increase Medicare and Social Security costs. This need not pose a problem: Revenue was roughly 19 percent of GDP in the late 1990s, and economic conditions were excellent.”
– Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Richard E. Rubin, writing in The Washington Post