Time for a change

The government should take a cue from the private sector and supply each

federal employee with a laptop and Internet service, a top Army official

said last week.

Miriam Browning, director of information management at the Army, made

the comment at the Virtual Government 2000 conference in Washington,

D.C. "If Delta and Ford can do it so should we," she said, adding that

the Army is considering giving laptops to its recruits.

Ford Motor Co. earlier this month announced it planned to give its

350,000 employees home PCs and Internet access for a nominal fee. Delta Air

Lines followed the next day with a similar promise to its employees.

Browning and others speaking on the IT digital work force panel agreed

that the government must reform the way it recruits, hires and retains

IT workers. Pay, benefits, hiring procedures and job titles for IT

workers in the government need to better reflect private-sector

practices.

"Pay for IT professionals in government needs to be re-engineered. We

have to hire people based on skills and competencies we need," Browning

said. "We need to accelerate the hiring process so we can make an offer

within a week. I have lost good people to other DOD agencies" because the

hiring process takes too long.

Agencies should relax their dress codes, support flexible work hours and

hire people with talent whether they have a high school, college or

graduate

degree, Browning said. "I think we need to make everyone welcome."

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