Aging work force alarms CIOs

Four federal chief information officials expressed alarm Thursday at the

dwindling high-tech work force and what it will take to keep talented personnel

in government.

"We face some daunting statistics in what's going to happen to our work

force," Internal Revenue Service CIO Paul Cosgrave said at a Washington,

D.C., luncheon sponsored by the Professional Services Council.

The average age of an information technology worker is 47, and during the

next two years, the IRS expects 25 percent of its work force to retire.

"It is an aging work force. If we don't do something soon, we'll be out

of business," Cosgrave said.

His thoughts were echoed by Joe Leo, CIO at the Agriculture Department,

who said he has a work force that's "aging and declining rapidly."

Transportation CIO George Molaski said he hoped proposals would help, such

as a "cybercorps" that would pay the educational loans for those who want

to work in government IT. And he said he expected more work to be outsourced

to make up for the lack of government workers.

However, NASA's deputy CIO, David Nelson, said the space agency is reluctant

to outsource its work because of the sensitive nature of most of it.

"We're reluctant to give to you the mission control," Nelson told vendors

at the luncheon.

He said the lack of talented workers continues to be a critical problem

because "we are not able to meet the salaries [of the private sector]. We

are not able to keep the people."

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