2017 CompTIA Fly-In Tech Policy Summit: Cybersecurity Workforce, IoT and the 2017 Federal Tech Policy Agenda

PanelBlog_editFollowing a working lunch, the CompTIA Tech Policy Summit got underway, which featured panel discussions on the cybersecurity workforce, Internet of Things (IoT), and a glimpse at the federal tech policy agenda for 2017.

Filling the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline

Our first panel titled “Filling the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline” discussed the shortage of skilled workers in the cybersecurity space. Recent data indicates that the problem is two-fold: filling the cybersecurity workforce gaps we have today while preparing the next generation to enter the cybersecurity workforce in the future.

The panel, moderated by Rick Geritz, CEO of LifeJourney, looked at some key questions such as:

  • What is a cyber job?
  • What is the role and impact of public-private partnerships to build the cyber workforce and expand economic opportutnies?
  • What is the efficacy and can we scale up more performance-based learning opportunities?
  • And, do we have a “marketing problem” in that we are not effectively demonstrating the opportunity of a cyber career to young people?

Geritz began by saying, “Cybersecurity is a new frontier and we’re right in the wheelhouse of enormous growth.”

Bill Newhouse, Deputy Director, National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Program Office at NIST, in helping to define what a cyber job is said, “NIST has a long history of developing standards for information security. We don’t just rely on our expertise, but the expertise from government and industry. We are working to develop a framework and pathway to create operational, sustainable programs and activities for a national cybersecurity education program.” Newhouse discussed CyberSeek as a key component of that framework and said we need to see it being used. CyberSeek was introduced recently by NIST in cooperation with CompTIA and is an interactive online tool designed to make it easier for cybersecurity job seekers to find openings and for employers to identify the skilled workers they need. 

Chase Norlin, Founder and CEO of Transmosis, said cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing industries. “We need to evangelize cybersecurity on a consumer level.  It’s not just its own industry but cuts across every industry.  We truly have a marketing problem and need to explain the scope of cybersecurity,” he said.

Lynne Clark, OCP Chief, National Information Assurance Education and Training Program (NIETP), NSA/DHS National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Program Office said, “Our organization is helping to define cybersecurity as a profession with the mission of defending the nation. We are trying to influence that conversation and defining the requirements for the profession, and working with schools to make that happen.”

She discussed the GenCyber program funded jointly by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation.  The program provides summer cybersecurity camp experiences for middle school and high school students, and also helps teachers learn how to teach cybersecurity.  Funding is provided jointly by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation.

“As we become more reliant on cyber-based technology, we want these students to be inspired and to direct their talents in this area that is so critical to the future of our country’s national and economic security,” Clark said.

David Forscey, Policy Analyst, National Governors Association, “People think you have to be a genius to do cybersecurity, but you can enter the field in different ways, it’s not just about coding.”

The panel also discussed the U.S. cybersecurity teacher shortage, Forscey said, “We are seeing high schools, for example in Rhode Island, go to industry and hire adjunct teachers who can teach AP cybersecurity in the interim.”  He stressed the importance of the public contacting state legislators and asking for funding for cybersecurity teachers and funding for more cybersecurity education programs.

Staying Ahead of the Curve: Industry Working with Government to Realize the Benefits of IoT

Our second panel titled, “Staying Ahead of the Curve: Industry Working with Government to Realize the Benefits of IoT,” looked at the booming IoT industry which includes millions of devices already in use, and many many more expected in the coming years. Because these devices are used in such a wide variety of ways (connected homes, smart vehicles, healthcare, smart grids, etc.), there are a number federal agencies monitoring the industry.  However, there are no clear standards in place for how these federal agencies should assert their regulatory authority. Additionally, these devices will be transmitting massive amounts of data, and we will need both the spectrum and broadband infrastructure to accommodate data demands.

To pave the way for innovation and growth in the IoT space, the panel stressed we need industry participation and input to help government understand what they can and should do to move the industry forward.  Specifically, this panel looked at what the federal government can do both in the near and long-term to ensure the success of the IoT.

The moderator of this very interesting panel was Matthew Starr, Director, Public Advocacy, CompTIA.

Melika Carroll, Policy Advisor for Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), discussed a bipartisan IoT bill that U.S. Senators Schatz, Deb Fischer (R-NE.), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced addressing the future impact of new technology known as the “Internet of Things.” The bill, known as the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act calls for a national strategy on the Internet of Things. This bill passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee last year, but never received a floor vote. It was recently reintroduced in both the House and Senate in the 115th Congress.

Melissa Glidden Tye, Vice President, Public Policy, Verizon, discussed the need to figure out how to handle increased traffic because of IoT demand and mentioned the solution is to increase the amount of available spectrum for commercial use.  She added that while there are public policy considerations around privacy and cybersecurity as it relates to IoT that “we want to have the room to grow these IoT products to meet consumer demand for IoT without heavy government regulations.”  

Travis Hall, Telecommunications Policy Analyst in NTIA’s Office of Policy Analysis and Development (OPAD) talked about NTIA’s recently-released green paper about IoT titled “Fostering the Advancement of IoT.”  He explained that green papers lead to policy and encouraged the audience to submit comments by February 27.

Implications of a New Congress and Administration on the Tech Agenda

Our third panel titled, “Implications of a New Congress and Administration on the Tech Agenda,” took a close look at the agendas of the House, Senate, and Administration as it applies to technology. With a turbulent election season in the rearview mirror, what is the outlook for STEM, cybersecurity, high skilled immigration, privacy and much more? Leading Hill and Administration staffers answered these important questions at this panel.

Jason Boxt, Executive Vice President, Penn Schoen Berland, hosted a quick-fire question and answer session with our panelists.

Matt Kellogg, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel to the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, discussed the Innovation Initiative which focuses on IT and innovation-related laws that foster more innovation into the federal government and stimulates private sector innovation and growth.  When Kellogg was asked what was possible in this Congress, he said tax reform and regulatory reform is very real and bipartisan.

Neil Chatterjee, Policy Advisor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he thought the greatest opportunity for progress in this Congress is infrastructure which ties to tax reform.  “Infrastructure enjoys bipartisan support”.

Charlies Cooper, Executive VP of the Signal Group, said the House is different than the Senate and stressed it’s easier to get things to the finish line in the House. In terms of what’s possible in this Congress, Cooper said tax reform and trade will have a more definitive path but that won’t be the case with encryption.

Jack Krumholtz, Managing Director of Glover Park Group, talked about the CompTIA DC Fly-In visits on the Hill and stressed it’s important to keep in mind the rise in populism and to frame workforce issues and the CHANCE in Tech Act (an education and workforce proposal from CompTIA which focuses on scaling up the workforce through work-based learning solutions like apprenticeships) around the benefits it will have on the economy.

Both Krumholtz and Cooper agreed that the Trump agenda on the tech sector is unknown at this point but that there’s an opportunity for industry to provide leadership on tech policy, especially at this Fly-In.  “Congress will fill the void and move big ticket items.  For many of our issues, Congress will inform the administration’s positions and shape the direction of tech policy,” Cooper said.

A day of exciting and impactful panel sessions at this year’s Fly-In that truly reflected the significant shift in the political and policy landscape since the 2016 election.