What does federal spending in 2016 mean for the cybersecurity sector?

Federal agencies challenged around recruiting and retaining cybersecurity talent.

President Barak Obama included $14 billion for cyber security spending in his 2016 budget. A look at some key numbers and trends for 2016 reveals big opportunities for vendors who provide cyber products and services to federal agencies, and big challenges for federal agencies around recruiting and retaining cybersecurity staff.

With a cumulative market valued at $65.5 billion (2015 – 2020), the U.S. Federal Cybersecurity market will grow steadily at about 6.2 percent CAGR, according to a report from Market Research Media. The report states “the annual cyber security spending of the US Federal government is bigger than any national cyber security market, exceeding at least twofold the largest cybersecurity spending countries.”

Vendor outlook

Demand for vendor-furnished information security products and services by the U.S. federal government will increase from $8.6 billion in FY 2015 to $11 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2 percent, according to “Deltek’s Federal Information Security Market Report” – which examines the trends and drivers shaping the federal information security marketplace and provides a forecast for the next five years.

Job openings

Recent White House workforce data show that over the last two years, the U.S. has been losing more civilian cybersecurity professionals than it’s been able to hire. Tony Scott, the U.S. chief information officer, estimates there are about 10,000 cybersecurity openings right now across federal agencies, bureaus and departments, according to a recent article in Politico.

Compensation challenges

It appears that the biggest challenge facing the fed right now is a lack of skilled cyber personnel. According to a recent analysis by Booz Allen and the Partnership for Public Service, a senior level software engineer can make upwards of $33,000 more doing her job in the private sector rather than the federal government. Entry-level salaries for the same kind of position can be as much as $14,000 higher in the private sector.

Recruiting Initiatives

At the RSA Conference earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it was opening a Silicon Valley office. According to a recent Fortune article, the office is a bid to improve relations between tech companies and the government, spread the government’s ideology on cybersecurity throughout the tech industry, and recruit top talent that might otherwise head to the private sector.

A recent San Jose Mercury News story signaled Silicon Valley’s importance in cyberwarfare stating the Department of Defense announced it will start providing venture capital funding to valley startups that can help the Pentagon develop more advanced cybersecurity and intelligence systems to fend off nation states and hackers targeting everything from top-secret military correspondence to public power grids.

If the federal government is going to start acting like a VC firm​, then it may want to direct its own agencies to ratchet up their cybersecurity salaries.

To comment on this article and other CSO content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
Insider: Hacking the elections: myths and realities
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.