Bipartisan Bill Supports DoD Cyber Scholarships

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), joined by Representatives John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Rick Allen (R-GA), and Hank Johnson (D-GA), today introduced the Department of Defense (DOD) Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017, legislation that would improve the cybersecurity workforce pipeline by reinvigorating and improving an existing DOD scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity fields. The bill is the House companion to S. 592, introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

“The Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) has boosted the nation’s cyber forces through scholarships and grant opportunities at colleges and universities across the country, and has strengthened the Department of Defense as a result,” said Langevin, the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, who is also a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees. “I have been a longtime supporter of these types of initiatives across the whole of government, and it is imperative we reinvigorate this program, which has done so much good for our superiority in cyberspace.”

The DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act would rename the IASP as the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program, expand scholarships to students pursuing Associate’s Degrees, and authorize the scholarship program to receive $10 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Due to budget constraints, IASP stopped recruiting new students in 2013, starving the Department of needed cyber talent and increasing the difficulty of recruiting skilled professionals into government positions.

“America needs the best and brightest to tackle the cybersecurity challenges we’re confronted with each day. Step one is making cybersecurity service to the nation more attractive. This bill increases educational opportunities for those who can help bolster United States’ own cyber workforce, which will strengthen our ability to face growing cybersecurity challenges both now and moving forward,” said Ratcliffe.

“The strength of our national security is dependent on the investments we put into it. With the rapid advances we’ve seen in cyberwarfare, having a trained and prepared workforce is essential to protecting the homeland,” said Aguilar.

“I am pleased to co-lead the bi-partisan DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act to provide $10 million in scholarship funds to aspiring cybersecurity students. As a Computer Science major myself, I am well aware of the threats facing our nation in the cybersecurity area. The DOD needs to have the best and brightest cybersecurity professionals with eager minds ready to put their education to work securing the nation’s military weapons systems and communication networks,” said Lieu.

“A skilled workforce is the backbone of any and every field – and in cyberspace, we face different threats from our adversaries each and every day,” said Allen. “At Fort Gordon, in my district, our soldiers are on the front line of fighting these attacks – and in the changing electronic world we live, we must have the best and the brightest standing ready to support the needs of our military. I have always said we must encourage students to find their passions early on and allow those interests to be carried on throughout their educational careers – the cyber industry is yet another example. Augusta University is leading educational innovation in my district to prepare the next generation of cyber warriors. Investing in future generations makes it possible to field the cyber threats of today, tomorrow and years to come.”

“I applaud this very important bicameral and bipartisan legislation, which will help bolster the Department of Defense’s waning cybersecurity workforce. Competition from the tech world has made recruiting and retaining top public sector cybersecurity professionals a challenge. I am proud to support the DOD Cybersecurity scholarship program at universities across the country, as they engage and educate students from various backgrounds and at different levels of education. Georgia universities are leading the effort to ensure a vibrant and highly-skilled government and public-sector cybersecurity workforce, and the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017 will help secure these efforts for years to come,” said Johnson.

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