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UNIVERSITY-BASED CYBERSECURITY CENTERS
The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) division develops, demonstrates, and deploys cybersecurity tools, technologies, methodologies, and frameworks that strengthen energy sector resilience. CESER strives to accomplish these functions by supporting President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a component of programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities. CESER requests to seek applications under this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). This FOA seeks to establish a network of university-based, regional electric power cybersecurity centers. These centers should address interrelated research and development challenges of cybersecurity and critical energy infrastructure, while considering the distinctive characteristics of each region's electricity system, network of infrastructure, and workforce expertise. It is envisioned that this initiative will result in multiple new tools and training for the energy sector through partnerships between universities, energy sector owners and operators, regulatory bodies, and DOE National Laboratories.
This initiative extends CESER’s cybersecurity grid protection efforts to establish academic collaboration centers distributed regionally across the country. This topic area will involve collaboration between the regionally distributed recipients and local entities (utilities, industry, etc.) to support the innovation and transition of cybersecurity capabilities. The proposed project activities should result in improving the cybersecurity posture of each region’s energy delivery systems. This improvement will involve cybersecurity aspects of the information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) networks as well as the unique local grid physics.
Project activities will integrate rigorous academic approaches with real-world expertise. Academic institutions will be required to team with asset owners/operators and solution providers to develop tools to address unique cybersecurity energy sector gaps. These energy sector partners will provide industry guidance and ensure all project activities are relevant and will yield useful results. DOE, at its discretion, may choose to test any tools or products developed under this initiative at a site of our preference including the National Laboratories using any tools or techniques available for our use.
These academic and industry collaborations will strive to execute the current administration’s goal of protecting our energy infrastructure from cyber threats and create a more resilient energy delivery system with a focus on clean energy systems, next-generation grid and energy management systems.
These collaborations will also focus on developing and building a system of cybersecurity education programs to improve and train the nation’s energy sector workforce. The course curriculum should be built in collaboration with the industry to satisfy the sector needs. It should be targeted to different levels of energy sector entities (e.g., large, small, cooperative and municipal utilities, regional grid operators) and should include hands on training at the energy sector facilities. The program should take into consideration lessons learned from DOE’s programs like CyberForce Competition, CyberStrike, and OT Defender etc.
Programs should consider opportunities for students to enter energy cybersecurity professions through internships and apprenticeships with local energy companies, which will provide on-the-job training. It will be helpful for students to gain a better understanding of operational technology and the security behind it. Programs should strive to build a pipeline of students to become professionals in the sector. Opportunities to connect to DOE’s CyberForce Competition would also be welcomed.
- Required Concept Papers: Oct. 13, 2021
- Full Applications: Dec. 8, 2021
Areas of Interest
For secure automation, the R&D efforts will focus on improving security measures needed for integrating hardware and software systems that improve automation and efficiency in manufacturing, as well as developing automated diagnostics for manufacturing systems. Improving security of all manufacturing processes will also allow manufacturers to improve productivity, flexibility and connectivity. Control interfaces for manufacturing equipment, tools, or components is one area the Institute must address.
Securing Supply Chain Networks
R&D must consider all aspects of the manufacturing supply chain network –including those that span across multiple supplier tiers – for equipment, tools, and materials. Recent advances in modeling and simulation, machine learning, and AI can be leveraged to improve energy efficiency and performance across entire supply chain networks by reducing the risks and consequences of cyber threats. Supply chain security work proposed must allow for agile on-demand, dynamic, energy-aware and cost-effective ecosystems. Work must address autonomy for manufacturing systems with secure asset and energy management.
In accordance with 2 CFR 910.126, Competition, eligibility for award is restricted to universities, colleges, and non-profit research institutions that operate as divisions under colleges, non-profit research institutions that operate as divisions under colleges or universities as the prime recipient, and incorporated consortia and unincorporated consortia that operate under universities, colleges, and non-profit research institutions. DOE is restricting eligibility based on Congressional language within U.S. House of Representative, Report 116–44, 116th Congress, 2d Session, recommending the establishment of a network of university-based, regional electric power-cybersecurity centers.
Applicants may submit more than one Full Application to this FOA. Each application must describe a unique, distinct project.
DOE expects to make $10,000,000 in Federal funding available for new awards under this FOA. DOE anticipates making 4 awards with a maximum Federal share of $2,500,000 available for an award, with cost share required per Section III.C. Cost Sharing.