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CHIPS Articles: An Interview with Mr. Chris Kelsall

An Interview with Mr. Chris Kelsall
DON CIO Director of the Cyber/IT Workforce
By CHIPS Magazine - October-December 2010

Under the Clinger-Cohen Act and Federal Information Security Management Act, command information officers are responsible for Cyber/IT Workforce planning. The DON Cyber/IT Workforce Strategic Plan details the strategy to develop a highly competent Cyber/IT total force (see Tables 1 and 2) that is capable of implementing, integrating, securing and executing sustained operations across the full cyberspace domain. The DON Cyber/IT Workforce Strategic Plan is the way forward to ensure the department’s efforts to provide the best support to commands and to help members of the Cyber/IT Workforce achieve individual career goals.

The strategic plan goals are:
• Provide workforce capabilities that fully support cyberspace operations.
• Develop competency-based planning and management processes.
• Support required capabilities by recruiting a qualified and experienced workforce.
• Develop and manage the DON Cybersecurity/Information Assurance Workforce.

CHIPS asked the DON CIO Director of the Cyber/IT Workforce Chris Kelsall to discuss the strategy in August.

CHIPS: Could you explain your role in supporting the Department of the Navy CIO Cyber/IT Workforce team? Can you tell us specifically what you do in your role?

KELSALL: As the director of the DON CIO Cyber/IT Workforce Team, I serve as an expert on workforce policy, planning, systems, credentialing and development requirements for the workforce. Additionally, I’m responsible for recommending and integrating new workforce programs and requirements, and developing theories, concepts, principles, standards and methods for workforce development. I also represent the DON in both Defense Department and federal efforts surrounding cybersecurity workforce development, the associated competency development, and in reporting to Congress.

I also serve as the DON lead for the Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program which includes training and certification efforts. I represent the DON CIO on the Federal CIO Council IT Workforce Committee. All of these activities are accomplished working directly with Navy and Marine Corps Cyber/IT Workforce personnel organizations and folks from our DON Civilian Human Resources Office. Finally, I’m a member of the Executive Board of the Federal Information Systems Security Educators’ Association. Their objective is to facilitate information exchange in the area of information systems security awareness, training and education.

CHIPS: What are some of the main takeaways from the DON Cyber/IT Workforce Strategic Plan?

KELSALL: We’re doing the work today — and pretty well. We must concentrate identifying the places we need to focus people and tools to improve, and then we must determine how to train and qualify folks to handle those roles. We have the people; rather than looking to hire ‘new skills’ we must identify who has those skills today and how to balance the roles and work within the workforce. We must also continue to bring in new talent to build them into the replacements for those who leave the department.

We must work with academia and research and development organizations to know what’s changing and what new employees will bring with them so we can integrate them rapidly into our workforce.

Knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) don’t fit the bill in this area; what’s being done and what people are actually being equipped with does. We must be able to speak with a common language across DoD, federal agencies, private industry and academia. No longer can we fall into ‘DoD speak’ in this area. If we’re going to be able to work the ‘security risk to one in cyberspace is a risk to all’ issue we must be able to understand each other.

CHIPS: How are you able to ensure the Department of the Navy has the leadership commitment, the resources and the initiative to develop the Cyber/IT Workforce?

KELSALL: DON leadership, cyber/IT leaders and human resources leadership are all committed to ensuring the DON has the most capable Cyber/IT Workforce in the world. The policy and strategic planning guidance we are receiving from the top is putting us on the path to realizing that goal. Also, the people within the DON who are working these issues have direct access to leadership — the cyber/IT flag officers and the senior executive service personnel — on a daily basis.

These working relationships across the department, including with the Navy and Marine Corps, have allowed us to coordinate across the services and organizations.

The workforce itself has really jumped at this opportunity. They are very committed. We’ve established teams that work together on workforce issues, policies, strategies and the requirements that are needed to move forward. All of these are developed with input from workforce personnel across the department.

Just as importantly, the human resources leadership and key workforce members have been working with us on a daily basis to ensure they provide the knowledge needed to execute strategies and workforce plans and provide the human resources information that is necessary to realize our recruiting and hiring principles.

Additionally, the DoD has established teams to specifically address Cyber/IT Workforce requirements and issues. This venue provides us the additional opportunity to share across the DoD components, and where needed, gain visibility at the DoD level for workforce needs.

CHIPS: How will the Navy recruit the right people with the right skills?

KELSALL: Our recruiting actions today are getting us the folks we need today, but if we are going to fully understand and attract the future workforce, we’re going to need to become even more involved with academic institutions from universities, to vocational schools, to high schools. We need to understand the skills people will be bringing with them.

If we’re going to appeal to people we need to be able to provide an environment where they can apply what they’ve learned, and we’ve got to be able to convey that to them. If we truly understand the people who have an interest in joining our team, we must know what they are looking for and become part of the environment in which they exist — schools, social media, research and development, and anywhere else we can.

CHIPS: What skills will they have to have already, and what will the Navy train people for?

KELSALL: We look for aptitude and background for our military folks, and education and experience for our civilians.

The fundamentals should match across the board; we’ll just need to provide the education to our military folks up front if they don’t have the background. The key is that we’ll need to provide valuable continuing education for everyone on an individual level.

Gone are the days where our people ‘are hired with everything they need.’ It is crucial that we provide the means for our workforce to stay current. Additionally, we must provide training for our teams. People don’t work alone anymore; defending our networks is a team effort. We’ll have to continually challenge them in simulated environments as a team if we’re going to stay ahead of our adversaries.

CHIPS: How do business skills mesh with cybersecurity skills?

KELSALL: As we’re now at the point where cybersecurity has become a mission area along with our warfighting and business mission areas, we must have people who understand the ‘business’ of the DON in the Cyber/IT Workforce.

We can’t afford to take hundreds or thousands of requirements identified by functional area managers, translate them into system specifications, and then give our warfighters a tool that we think does what they want. We have to develop our new tools as a team, so our techies must also speak the business language and be part of the business process. We’ll need to cover everything; cybersecurity and our IT tools are everywhere and support all of our operations.

Plus we’ll need to be able to support operations outside of the DON, not only with federal, state, local and private organizations, but also with our international partners.

CHIPS: What are some challenges that you are facing? How are you going to overcome them?

KELSALL: The primary challenge faced by the community is the future requirements that will need to be addressed. We have to constantly look at our needs regarding our current systems, networks and telecommunications, but we also have to look at how we are going to do business in this new world defined by cybersecurity.

Right now, there are multiple studies, reports, pending legislation and efforts addressing the nation’s cybersecurity workforce. Once the new structure of the Defense Department’s cyber domain is fully outlined, we’ll need to take a hard look at how we structure our workforce to align with it. We will be doing this while balancing the other workforce requirements of the department. We will have to work directly across multiple occupational areas to ensure that we have the right resources necessary to be that world-class workforce that we talked about.

CHIPS: Is there funding for FY11 to meet the training requirements of the Cyber/IT Workforce? Readers will want to know where the funding in individual commands will come from.

KELSALL: Yes, there is funding for FY11. Every command receives money for civilian training every year. However, command IOs and IT staffs must make sure they are budgeting for civilian cyber/IT training. Military training requirements are being funded through the education and training commands for the most part.

Military personnel attending the different military training schoolhouses will receive the appropriate training as part of revised curriculums. Electronic training has been funded by the enterprise, and therefore, is available for no cost to individual commands. This training is readily accessible to the workforce.

See the e-Learning article in the July - September 2010 issue of CHIPS for more information: .

“As one of the Nation’s leading employers, the Federal Government is in need of highly skilled individuals to meet agency staffing needs and to support mission objectives. Our veterans, who have benefited from training and development during their military service, possess a wide variety of skills and experiences, as well as the motivation for public service that will help fulfill Federal agencies’ staffing needs.”
~ Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States

“The opening rounds of the next war will be in cyberspace — the Navy must be ready to prevent wars as well as win them; to do that, we must understand how we will live, operate, and win in cyberspace.”
~ Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations

Table 1: DON Civilian Cyber/IT Community. Note: Marine Corps numbers include nonappropriated fund personnel. Series 1420 and 1421 are not considered part of the Marine Corps Cyber/IT community.
Table 1: DON Civilian Cyber/IT Community. Note: Marine Corps numbers include nonappropriated fund personnel. Series 1420 and 1421 are not considered part of the Marine Corps Cyber/IT community.

Table 2: DON Military Cyber/IT Community.
Table 2: DON Military Cyber/IT Community.
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Related DON CIO Policy

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