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CISA’s Robert Costello Talks Culture Shifts, Cyber Innovation Strategies During Keynote at GovCon Wire’s Information Security & Innovation Forum

GovCon Wire Events’ timely Information Security and Innovation Forum on Wednesday brought together prominent figures across government and industry to discuss how public and private sector organizations are working together to better fortify the United States’ critical information security and cybersecurity capabilities in response to the heightened threat of cyber attacks in today’s digital age.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chief Information Officer Robert Costello opened the morning’s program with a keynote address focused on how his office is targeting bold innovation at the foundational process level to transform CISA’s culture and attract talent that can help usher the federal agency into the modern era.

Lori Stallard, vice president and strategic account executive at Leidos, gave the audience an introduction of Costello to outline the CISA CIO’s extensive federal and industry experience and set the stage for his insightful speech. Costello then took the floor to shed light on some of the leadership tenets and technology priorities that guide him in his role within the agency.

If you missed Wednesday’s forum, visit the GovCon Wire Events page, where you can view the full Information Security and Innovation Forum on-demand now.

Costello – who assumed his current role in August 2021 after serving as public sector civilian strategic advisor at World Wide Technology – brings a fresh, industry-informed perspective to the three year-old agency and works to catalyze CISA’s modernization initiatives.

This kind of transformational change is needed, Costello posited, in order to address the ever-present threat of cyber attacks.

“We’re constantly under attack, whether that’s on social media, to our mission systems, or elsewhere, we’re seeing a drastic change in the approach to how we have to secure our systems,” he revealed.

Continuing, Costello explained, “What we’re doing here at CISA is taking a hard look at how our processes can be modified within the confines of still remaining compliant, but also working hand-in-hand with the mission operators here in CISA to make sure that we’re listening to them, that we’re training our people appropriately.”

Throughout his keynote session, Costello spoke on a wide range of CISA’s organizational facets, including the importance of the Authorization To Operate process, taking a supportive approach to failure and embracing flexibility to attract a competitive workforce.

“I want to make CISA like a great startup,” Costello said, noting that he ideally wants operators to be able to choose the technology they deploy in service of the mission. “We really want to be able to attract the talent that is out there and honestly compete with industry a little bit.”

The agency’s “people focus” is further enabled by CISA’s ability to field its own solutions when applicable, empower its employees to learn from industry and return to government and employ new hiring processes.

“We also really want to embrace the cyber talent management system, which is the new hiring authority that we have here at DHS,” commented Costello. “I think that’ll allow us to recruit a little bit differently.”

To hear Robert Costello’s full keynote address, visit the GovCon Wire Events page, where you can watch the full Information Security and Innovation Forum and other recent GovCon sector events on-demand.

Learn more about strengthening cybersecurity through innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning at the in-person Applying AI to Data for Cyber Hygiene and National Security Forum hosted by our sister platform, ExecutiveBiz Events, on March 10.

Keynote speaker Stephen Wallace, chief technology officer for Defense Information Systems Agency, will speak on how he leads the agency’s Emerging Technology Directorate in delivering innovative processes, services and capabilities across DISA and works to deploy advanced AI/ML solutions in support of mission needs.

Register now for the Applying AI to Data for Cyber Hygiene and National Security Forum!

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