Cyber Innovation Fellows Initiative

Cyber Innovation Fellows Initiative


Collaboration with the private sector is at the heart of CISA’s cybersecurity mission. Every day, CISA works with industry partners across the country to understand risks, exchange information, and mitigate threats. We are launching the Cyber Innovation Fellows to take this partnership to a new level by bringing private sector experts into the agency on a short term, part-time basis to lend their expertise to some of our most critical teams.

The constantly shifting cyber risk landscape requires CISA to stay on the leading edge of key areas, from cloud security to threat intelligence. The Cyber Innovation Fellows Initiative will allow some of the nation’s most skilled and experienced practitioners and experts to bring their perspectives to CISA on a short-term basis to advance our national mission to reduce cyber risk at scale. Participants will help to innovate the agency’s approach to cybersecurity, while also gaining awareness of CISA’s mission that will enhance the participant’s own skills and knowledge.

Through the Cyber Innovation Fellows initiative, CISA is creating new opportunities to include important non-federal expertise and perspectives at the agency. Experts will be embedded on teams across CISA where their specific expertise does not already exist within the agency.

How to Get Involved

If accepted, Fellows will be assigned a position, based on background and qualifications, and serve on a part-time basis of one to two days per week for a period of up to four months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Initiative 

Q1. What is the Cyber Innovation Fellows Initiative?

A1. The CISA Cyber Innovation Fellows Initiative offers technical experts from across the private sector the chance to embed on CISA’s cybersecurity teams and contribute to CISA’s critical national mission while also enhancing their own professional development and experience.

Q2. Why is CISA undertaking this initiative?

A2. The rapidly evolving cyber risk landscape requires that CISA find new, innovative ways to engage new perspectives outside of the federal government. The Cyber Innovation Fellows initiative marks an important milestone in CISA’s engagement with a broader community of experts whose training and expertise, creativity around solutions, and desire to make a difference in improving global cybersecurity will make for dynamic, additive, and valuable contributions within the CISA mission space.

Q3. Who is eligible to participate?

A3. CISA is seeking technical experts with specific areas of cybersecurity expertise aligned with key focus areas, such as cloud security, AI/ML, and secure software development. Experts should have several years of experience in their respective areas.

Q4. What qualities is CISA looking for in a candidate?

A4.  CISA’s work is grounded in collaboration and partnership with the private sector, other government agencies, international entities and other organizations. Candidates should be excited to work on teams, have excellent communication and organizational skills, and be proficient in their area of technical expertise.

Q5. What types of activities will participants conduct?

Fellows will help design, through consultation, the implementation of CISA’s cybersecurity programs and services, as well as to strategies to scale new approaches to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, post-compromise containment, initiative evaluation and analysis, cloud security, in addition to CISA’s legacy initiatives supporting federal cybersecurity. To view current openings, visit the prospective candidates webpage. 

Q6. What’s it like to work at CISA?

A6. As the Nation’s cyber defense agency, we were designed to be something different, not another government bureaucracy, but something much more akin to a public/private collaborative. Additionally, CISA has a culture that embraces diversity and puts people first. CISA’s Core Values represent the fundamental tenets of the organization that guide all of our actions: Collaboration, Innovation, Service, Accountability.

Q7. Where will participants work? Will it be onsite?

A7. Participants will have the option to work remotely, according to preference. They will also have onsite access if/when needed. 

Q8. Why should a company support an employee’s participation?

A8. Employees are always looking for professional development and career advancement opportunities, many of which are unavailable within their company. CISA’s Cyber Innovation Fellows Initiative allows companies to take advantage of an opportunity to do both.

Additionally, participants will bring new insight back to their home organization as they learn how the federal government responds to a cyber incident on a national scale and come to understand CISA’s role as the lead federal agency responsible for protecting civilian and federal government networks.

Q9. Does participating give a company and special status?

A9. Allowing an employee to participate in the CISA Cyber Innovation Fellows initiative offers development benefits for the Fellow, which in turn benefits their home company, but participation in the initiative does not confer on a private sector organization any direct benefit or special status with CISA.

Q10: What if an embed wants to quit before the planned end date?

A10. If the participant or CISA determine that the Initiative is not a good fit, either one may terminate before the end date.

Q11: How many embeds does CISA plan to take this year?

A11. CISA plans to hire up to eight Fellows as part of the first cohort for 2022.

Q12: How long is the stay for each embed?

A12: These positions are on a part-time, short-term basis of one to two days per week for a period up to four months. Experts will have the option to extend their time with CISA but are limited to serving only 130 days within a 365-day period. Expert appointments under this initiative cannot be made in anticipation of seeking permanent employment with CISA.

Q13: Are security clearances required?

A13. All federal jobs are subject to basic public trust/suitability checks; however, this initiative does not require a security clearance.

Q14: Will candidates be compensated by CISA?

A14. Participants will be compensated solely by their private sector employer and must acknowledge that the government positions will be uncompensated.

Q15: Why should candidates participate in this initiative? What do they get out of it?

A15: The initiative is intended to advance the essential partnership between CISA and the private sector by ensure that the agency benefits from deep expertise across critical disciplines.  

Fellows will gain professional development and bring new insight back to their home organization as they learn how the federal government manages cyber risks on a global scale and CISA’s role as the nation’s cyber defense agency.


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