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.
National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Monday that tax reform has to happen this year, even if it means Congress has to stay in session longer. "I think we have a unique window in time right now, but unfortunately we keep losing days to this window,” he said. “The opportunity is now." House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week he’d keep members over Christmas if that’s what it takes. And Ryan predicted Monday that tax reform would pass the House by early next month and then get through the Senate to reach the president’s desk by the end of the year. But there are plenty of skeptics out there, given the hurdles. Issac Boltansky, an analyst at the investment bank Compass Point, told Business Insider, "The idea of getting tax reform done this year is a farcical fantasy. Lawmakers have neither the time nor the capacity to formulate and clear a tax reform package in 2017."
Passing a budget resolution for 2018 through the Senate will open a procedural door to a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. The resolution is expected to reach the Senate floor this week, although there are questions about whether Republicans have the 50 votes they need to pass it. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) said this weekend that she would vote for it and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is likely a “yes” as well, but Sen. Rand Paul (R-TN) is reportedly a likely “no” and John McCain (R-AZ) appears questionable. Now it looks like Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MI) won't be back in Washington this week to vote on the resolution due to health problems. The Hill says Cochran’s absence puts tax reform “on knife’s edge.”
Trump and the GOP still have work to do if they want to convince Americans that their tax plan won’t mostly help the rich. A CBS News Nation Tracker poll released Sunday finds that 58 percent say the tax reforms being discussed favor the wealthy, while 19 percent say it treats everyone equally and 18 percent say it favors the middle class.
The poll also found that 39 percent say that cutting the deficit should be a priority, even if it means taxes stay the same. About half as many people said cutting taxes should be prioritized even if the deficit rises.
The poll, conducted by YouGov, surveyed 2,371 U.S. adults between October 11 and 13. Its margin of error is 2.5 percent.