The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) now supports Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s, D-Calif., National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment that would create a Civilian Cyber Reserve at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), AFGE announced in a follow-up letter on Sept. 18.

The House Rules Committee is entering the second day of considering the fiscal year (FY) 2022 NDAA, and after working with Panetta’s office, AFGE has withdrawn its opposition to the program, while doubling down on its opposition to Rep. Tony Gonzalez’s proposal to create a National Digital Reserve Corps at the General Services Administration (GSA).

“We have been in contact with Representative Panetta’s office, and that office has agreed with some key substantive revisions to their Amendment Number 295 proposed by Representative Panetta which establishes a Civilian a Cyber Security Reserve pilot program at Cyber Command,” Everett Kelley, AFGE national president, wrote in the follow-up. “As a result of their having made crucial substantive revisions to their amendment, we withdraw our objections to their amendment and endorse it once their revisions are made.”

The union’s new support for the Panetta amendment and opposition to the Gonzalez amendment stems partly from the fact that Panetta’s program would be a pilot program, while Gonzalez would look to immediately establish a permanent digital reserve program at GSA.

“Amendment 665 has no limitations in scope as if it were a mature, well-run program. In contrast, the Panetta Amendment is a pilot program with limited numbers so that lessons learned from the pilot can help inform its next iteration. That is extremely important if one is concerned about not wasting taxpayer revenues,” Kelley wrote.

AFGE maintains that the deployments are also too short to be of actual benefit to the agencies the reservists would be working with and would primarily benefit the reservists and their private-sector employers. The lack of a public disclosure requirement also worries AFGE about potential conflicts of interest. The union has no opposition to Panetta’s revised amendment, which has deployments of up to two years and utilizes a public disclosure form.

Whether either amendment gets a floor vote is still yet to be seen.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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