- By Heather Harreld
- May 01, 2000
For many agencies, the next generation of IT leaders is already toiling
among their ranks, but with the projected exodus of IT workers during the
next five years, other agencies will need to attract new talent.
The government traditionally has faced monumental obstacles competing
with the private sector for IT workers — such as major salary discrepancies,
fewer perks and complex, bureaucratic hiring processes — but the Office
of Personnel Management is poised to launch an initiative geared to help
agencies recruit and retain IT workers.
To compete with the allure of the private sector, OPM has launched an
IT pilot with 11 federal agencies — including the Labor Department, the
Department of Veterans Affairs, the Treasury Department and the General
Services Administration — to help OPM develop new IT job titles and associated
competencies, adjust salaries, tweak benefits packages and speed up hiring
OPM is building an online system for the pilot agencies to use to access
candidate resumes and allow candidates to take required tests online. The
agency plans to "completely restructure" the IT pay scale, according to
the official. In addition, OPM plans to add more flexibility to federal
IT work schedule, to allow employees more flexibility to balance work and
Although the skills and characteristics of this next generation of IT
leaders in the government may differ from their counterparts who grew up
in the mainframe era, it is clear that their roles within their agencies
will be equally important, if not more so.
At NASA, for example, the traditional government viewpoint of IT workers
or non-IT workers does not fit because IT skills are intrinsic to the entire
work force, said Dabney Hibbert, manager of NASA's IT Workforce Program.
"Our scientists and engineers, whose use of IT is essential to their
job responsibilities, would not describe themselves as IT workers," Hibbert
said. "However, no matter their job classification, NASA envisions its next
generation of employees with an even higher level of IT skills to facilitate
their job responsibilities."