Letter to the editor

I read your article in Federal Computer Week ["Report: Feds must work on IT worker shortage," FCW.com, Oct. 26, 2000] regarding the National Research Council report on relieving information technology worker shortages, and I would like to share my views as a federal employee about how the government recruits personnel for IT positions.

I've been programming for my agency for more than three years, but programming is not exactly in my job description. I have designed, developed and installed complete Visual Basic applications used by my agency. I currently instruct a course at my local school in Visual Basic programming. After three-plus years with positive feedback at work and the drive to go further into a demanding career field, I've decided to apply for some computer specialist/programmer positions.

What I have seen is that the government does not look for IT skills from within first. I discussed my career change with an Office of Personnel Management assistant, and after our conversation was over, I hung up the phone disappointed. Knowing that I have applications running on-site that I have designed, developed and installed didn't seem to matter much to the OPM assistant because it wasn't in my current job description.

The very hard task I have is to make OPM understand my programming skills. I feel some sections of our government tend to be narrow-minded in some areas, but I wish it wasn't in information technology.

The agency I'm with has been great and has enabled me to attend programming seminars, etc. My grade is equivalent to a low GS-13 in pay with 12 years of federal service. My goal is for 18 more, creative years in the IT career field.

Oh well, just thought I would share my vision of this so-called government IT shortage. Maybe they're "looking for IT in all the wrong places."

Stanley Musick

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Fort Worth, Texas

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November 14, 2000

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