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In this two-part interview, Federal CIO Suzette Kent discusses the successes of the Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy, and what the new data center guidance means for agencies.

The Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy’s first class graduated on July 14, and with it successfully ends the first phase of the program. 30 students from across the federal government learned ‘foundational skills in cyber defense analysis,’ and key ideas for joining the cybersecurity workforce. U.S. Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent says that the program’s findings show that they should keep going.


“We have proven interest. When we started this, people were saying ‘Do you think anyone’s even going to sign up? Do you think anyone’s going to be interested?’ And we had 1600 applicants. Then we had people say, ‘Do you think they will pass the screening exam?’… We had more than we could even take into the class. I’d love to go back and address those individuals who proved they were qualified. We proved those two pieces,” Kent said. “We also proved with the partnership with the way it was delivered and I do have to do a shout out to the 11 agencies who allowed their team members to participate in this reskilling while they were doing their current jobs. We had to ask for permission from their agencies and supervisors, they went on this journey with us. We proved that we can do it, and the operational model worked.”


In response to Rep. Gerry Connolly’s questioning of OMB’s terminology. Kent says that the data center optimization program is tightening the focus, not “changing the yardstick.”


“We have four agencies who have no data centers left. We have five agencies who are only operating the few data centers because they are mission critical for a very viable reason. We have to focus on why haven’t the others moved?” Kent told Government Matters. ”For those, we are setting aggressive closure targets and we have a process that is even more pointed through OMB and some of the funding mechanisms to ensure that they are going in the right way. But, we also know that there are some components of data centers that will continue to operate. Those have to be run well.”

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