Beth Cobert took the stage at the PSC Vision Conference like a musician going out for an encore, or in this case, running through her greatest hits.

The acting OPM director has a month-and-a-half left in her year-and-a-half long tenure, and the Nov. 17 appearance at the contracting association's annual conference provided her the opportunity to address her achievements and ongoing initiatives.

"I've got a number of things to say, but I want to start by saying, 'Thank you,'" she said.

Cobert noted the cooperation PSC and the contracting community offered her during her early days at OPM and how important that cooperation would be moving forward.

"I hope that that kind of collaboration, that kind of partnership is something that continues," she said. "We are doing a lot of work at OPM and across the administration to ensure that there is a smooth handoff during transition.

"I know that everyone here is looking to continue to provide with great work, with great service of the highest quality. We want to continue to partner with you during the transition and beyond."

One of the more intriguing of issues Cobert spoke on was the dearth of not only new talent coming into the federal government, but also the trickle of cybersecurity expertise.

"Both the government and the private sector fundamentally need more help with cybersecurity expertise working for us than exists today in the country," she said.

She said that while estimates vary, some speculate that the cybersecurity talent shortfall could be as high as a million positions needed, prompting OPM, the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and others to develop a cyber recruitment strategy for new professionals, while navigating the issues of retaining them.

"We’re also thinking about how we build talent over the course of an individual’s career," she said. "In a fast moving arena like cyber or other parts of IT, we know we’ve got to address the issue of mobility and churn and view that as an opportunity and not just a challenge."

Cobert stressed the need for professional development to help keep federal workers and contractors engaged in honing their skills toward the mission as a way to retain their talent, but not to expect them to ultimately stay.

"From my perspective, I think I can say gone are the days when you could really expect someone to join the federal government, or a place like McKinsey & Company, and stay for 30 years," she said.

"People come to careers and institutions, but it’s part of a journey that’s going to have ebbs and flows. I think if you think about the next generation of the workforce, we’re going to see this even more. But we also need to recognize that by changing employers and changing roles, people can grow their skills and bring fresh perspectives and that makes them better at their job."

The trend, Cobert said, calls for a "seamless movement" between private, public and even academic sectors to acquire and hone their skills to make them better assets for service.

"We need that cross-pollination of ideas," she said. "Frankly, as folks working at the federal government, having the perspectives of people who are in private will help you, as well, be better able to serve your customers."

Cobert said that there are structured programs in place that would allow for easier exchanges between private and public sectors — such as the U.S. Digital Service — and with plans to expand them underway.

The OPM director also touted the development of the Human Capital and Training Solution contract— a strategically sourced, indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity vehicle that provides human capital and training services to federal agencies.

The agency partnered with the General Services Administration to develop the vehicle, which is now available as an unrestricted contract. The small business version is expected to roll out next month.

"We think there’s a real opportunity there for us to move together in a new and, frankly, improved way," she said.

"We want the time and the dialogue to be spent on discussions within agencies about what really are my human capital needs, who are the providers who can get me that expertise and less on some of the process steps involved in getting a contract executed."

Cobert’s tenure as OPM director is expected to expire on Jan. 20.

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