CIO: Young workers create new headaches

Young federal employees’ technology knowledge can create headaches for information technology support staff members, Molly O'Neill, the Environmental Protection Agency's chief information officer, said today.

However, she also said those support staff members may be able to prevent potential security problems by using new technologies such as the social media.

O’Neill spoke at the Government Customer Support Conference held by High Tech High Touch Solutions.

She also said the next generation of government workers may inadvertently be creating security hazards simply because they approach technology from a different angle.

For example, younger federal employees might use telework from cafes and coffee shops rather than from home. Those new employees will want to customize their phones and BlackBerrys by adding their own ringtones and wallpaper. Staff members also must learn how to manage instant messaging and the numerous other forms of communication the younger generation uses.

And the biggest problem is that the next generation will already be experts at the technology. “They know how the stuff works,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill compared today's generational divide in the federal workforce with the situation she encountered early in her career when she served as an unofficial IT help desk simply because she had rudimentary computer skills.

She said the only way to bridge that divide was to understand the technology. In particular, she noted that social-media tools such as wikis can make support staff members' jobs easier.

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