The legislation, introduced Tuesday, seemed to make it through the committee in record time.
The legislation, introduced Tuesday, seemed to make it through the committee in record time.

The Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee gave the go-ahead Wednesday to a bill that would give the Department of Homeland Security broader authority to hire and compensate cyber security professionals.

The legislation (S. 2354), which was introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), seemed to make it through the committee in record time. If passed into law, S. 2354 would give the DHS Secretary greater flexibility in recruiting cyber security personnel on par with the authority currently held by the Department of Defense and the NSA. Under the parameters of the bill, the DHS Secretary will be able to directly appoint candidates to positions as well as set basic pay rates and offer additional compensation.

Under an amendment to the legislation put up by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the DHS would have to adopt the National Workforce Cybersecurity Framework that was created by the National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education to serve as a guide for defining and articulating cyber security work.  

The federal government and the private sector have both come under fire for the way they've handled the Heartbleed bug, data breaches and other security flaws. By ramping up its cyber security force, and offering compensation and positions competitive with other government agencies, DHS should be able to cast a wider net and respond more quickly to cyber threats.

The proposed legislation follows on the heels of the Defense Department strengthening its U.S. Cyber Command in coming years, in part, by tripling its security staff to 6,000 people by 2016.

DHS has also announced efforts to educate the public of Heartbleed-like threats.