State IT Officials Should Hone Recruitment Skills, CSG Concludes

States without the deep pockets to lure information technology workers should work harder to market the size and scope of their technology projects, according to a survey that the Council of State Governments is preparing on IT recruitment and work-force development problems.

CSG (www.csg.org) in late March sent surveys to officials in all 50 states to gauge the extent of the technology work-force crunch in state government. The council later this summer will publish its survey results, along with a list of best practices that states can use to attract and retain competent technology workers.

"Out of the surveys we have gotten back, most everyone has indicated that there is a problem with recruitment efforts in state governments," said LeeAnn Tracy, CSG's midwestern regional coordinator. "A big reason is that states are just not able to compete with the private sector in terms of salaries. Also, there is a lot of red tape associated with hiring -- civil service exams and other procedures that must be completed."

However, many of those same states that lack big salaries to draw technical staff could do a better job promoting the projects that graduates fresh out of school could work on. "States are just not as good at advertising the scope of projects," Tracy said. "One of the representatives we talked to in Texas said they had a $200 million project sitting on their desk and no one to work on it."

Tracy said that in lieu of fat paychecks, many technology workers long for opportunities to practice project management skills. In its summer report, CSG likely will recommend that states step up the visibility of those opportunities, Tracy said. CSG's final product will contain work-force and recruitment statistics and best practices recommended by a CSG advisory panel.

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