IT workforce counting on contractors
- By William Matthews
- Sep 06, 2000
If predictions by industry and government are correct, more federal information
technology jobs will be outsourced to the private sector in coming years — the only question is whether the numbers will be modest or mammoth.
Look for "steady, moderate growth" in government agencies' use of contract
IT worker in the next five years, according to Input, a Virginia-based market
By 2005, Input projects that the federal government will be spending $40.3
billion each year on information technology services and systems — $10 billion
more than is being spent this year. And much of that new money is likely
to be used to hire contractors, said Kevin Plexico, Input's vice president.
Some of the increase will probably be used to bolster agency IT staffs,
but more of it will be spent to hire contractors, Plexico predicted. But
he said he does not envision federal worker layoffs. "There is not wholesale
support for getting rid of [federal] employees and starting over" with contract
workers, he said.
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a shrinking federal IT workforce.
The bureau's projections, which cover 1998 to 2008, are for a loss of 164,000
federal IT jobs, shrinking from 1.8 million workers to 1.6 million.
At the same time, the bureau projects a 117 percent increase in private-sector
Growing competition with private employers for IT workers is one of the
toughest problems federal IT managers face. In a survey earlier this year,
federal chief information officers agreed that IT outsourcing would increase.
The CIOs conceded in the survey that the federal government "is not likely
to have the skilled technical workforce required to implement and support
electronic government. This will increase the reliance on industry partners."
That's already evident at the Treasury Department, said Fred Thompson, program
manager for IT workforce improvement. Two Treasury subsidiaries — the Internal
Revenue Service and the Customs Service — "are planning major IT initiatives
and are looking for significant contractor support," Thompson said.
"I don't see dramatic cutbacks or layoffs" among federal IT workers, but
to fill new jobs, Treasury is counting on contractors, he said.