Letter to the Editor

As a government financial manager with a keen interest in computers and costs, I find another article about the "woes" of shortages of IT personnel and its solution (more money) to be laughable ["Survey reconfirms IT staffing woes," FCW, Sept. 4].

The top executive in Washington, D.C., and I am sure elsewhere, should really begin to look at what the IT staff is really doing. Executives should look at what the investment they are making really buys and ask whether is it the best use of their operating budgets.

How many of those IT employees are certified to do anything? What are the ratios of computer geeks to program personnel they support? How many IT personnel actually look for improvements through more cost-effective "best practices" (without any compromise in service)? My guess is very few, if my department is any indication. Turf protection is mission one! You use the word "router" to a top executive, and they prostrate themselves before the IT "gods"! Design a feeble Web page using FrontPage, and you are a "Webmaster"! All of this "expertise" is compensated at grades 13, 14 or 15!

I think that it is time these IT snake oil salesmen be uncovered for the sham they are perpetuating at the taxpayers' expense. (I do not wish to imply that all government IT folks are in this category.) Before the Office of Personnel Management starts offering special pay for these "critical" personnel, I think it is time to require [certifying] these employees if they want to be paid the big bucks. Let's start making sure we are getting the best and brightest.

I am all in favor of upward mobility, but the time of overpayments must stop! It is pretty bad when a former secretary with only a high school diploma who demonstrates minimal computer aptitude who knows "computerspeak" can make as much money or more than lawyers, nurses, Ph.D. holders, and other degreed professionals.

I'd say there is a workforce challenge here, but it requires more than just pay to resolve.

Ed Andersen

Washington, D.C.

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BY Ed Andersen
September 19, 2000

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