Navy unveils IT work force plan
- By Dan Verton
- Aug 14, 2000
After a yearlong study designed to resolve the growing shortage of information
technology personnel, the Navy has issued a draft five-year plan that officials
say will help the service attract and retain highly skilled knowledge workers.
The draft version of what the Navy calls the Information Management/
Information Technology Workforce Strategic Plan was approved July 18 by
Dan Porter, the service's chief information officer. It establishes what
Porter calls a "framework" for building a core group of career-oriented
The focus of the Navy's plan is to create a pipeline of "core" IT personnel
who will constitute the service's cadre of IT career professionals. That
group, along with "expert users," will be provided timely, tailored training
for jobs that require specific expertise.
Porter has requested feedback on the plan from all major Navy and Marine
Corps units by Aug. 14. The Navy plans to release its final plan by October.
Karen Eanis, the Navy's program leader for IM/IT Competency Management,
said the focus has shifted from hiring specific people to hiring and developing
people with the right competencies. "It's part of our strategy for leveraging
human capital," she said.
The Navy's deputy CIO for enterprise integration, Alex Bennett, called
the effort "extremely aggressive" and said initiatives are under way to
make it a reality. To date, the Navy has developed continuous learning guidance
that calls for 80 hours of continuous learning and has supported that effort
with mentoring, distance learning and exchange programs, she said.
Officials are also developing a career path guide as well, Bennett added.
"A plan itself doesn't change anything. We're taking the time to get the
The release of the plan culminates a yearlong look at the work force
challenges every federal agency faces: an aging IT work force, an increasing
number of outsourcing competitions, a lack of incentives to create a new
pipeline of federal workers, and a significant gap in pay and benefits between
the government and private sector.
"Today's work force management practices are — to use an IT analogy — legacy systems and must be transformed to adapt to new requirements,"
the plan stated. The new plan's goal "is to ensure [the Navy] has the right
people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right times."
But who those "right people" are has evolved, according to the plan,
and they are not the same group that enabled the IT revolution. Today's
younger generation of IT workers demand the flexibility and benefits that
the Information Age can accommodate, according to the plan.
The current generation of IT workers has a different approach to knowledge,
according to the Navy. "They expect to be part of a more autonomous, global
and electronically networked force," according to the plan. "Virtual offices,
dispersed personnel and broad access to information will make the next generation
more fluid and require more flexible work rules."
Incentives and flexibility could offer solutions to some of the government's
most pressing work force challenges, said Marjorie Bynum, vice president
for Workforce Development at the Information Technology Association of America.
She recommended creating more and better incentives that extend beyond salary
enhancements, such as recruitment bonuses and paid training and education.
The government should "be more flexible in where and how federal [agencies]
acquire workers," Bynum said. "[It] shouldn't only focus on applicants [with
degrees] but someone with the required skills background, regardless of
where training came from," she said. "This is a practice the private sector
has slowly adopted and should be one that the federal government should