Planning a career

As the Navy Department outsources hundreds of computer support jobs, its chief information officer wants to make sure that the information technology workers who stay have a clear career path and goals for their future at the service.

Last month, Navy Department CIO Dan Porter issued a two-volume set defining the future job path for civilians who work in IT. The guide is designed to encourage IT workers to take jobs with the Navy and to keep them satisfied in their careers, and could also serve as a reference for the rest of government. The guide will form the foundation of the Navy's plans to recruit, train and retain the best and brightest IT workers.

The service is outsourcing nearly 1,900 jobs to Electronic Data Systems Corp. through the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet program. As a result, officials wanted to define "what knowledge management is all about" because it's an inherently governmental function that won't be outsourced, Porter said.

The immediate audience for the Civilian Career Path Guide and its accompanying 42-page Information Management/Information Technology Workforce Strategic Plan for 2001-2006 are the 7,000 computer specialists who work in the Navy, said Karen Danis, one of the architects of the strategic plan. The guide also targets students and workers interested in public service.

In compiling the career path guide and workforce strategic plan, the Navy avoided technical issues, focusing instead on career-management issues. For instance, the guide recommends that employees meet with their bosses regularly to talk about their career goals and encourages managers to make their own investment in training their workers.

The guide also presents Navy em-ployees with various career moves they can make and different kinds of information management and knowledge management work available in the Navy.

In addition to listing occupation titles for civilians who work in IT, the workforce strategic plan lists best practices that other federal agencies have implemented to improve their workforces, such as the State Department's offering 10 percent to 25 percent bonuses to computer specialist and telecommunications specialist job applicants.

The documents could convince those who wonder whether there are information management and technology jobs available for civilians at the Navy to join the service — particularly as it embraces outsourcing, said Robert Guerra, president of Robert J. Guerra and Associates.

"It changes your perspective," Guerra said. "If you don't have a job like you and me and are a college student in a ROTC program, you could be wondering if there are IT jobs in the Navy, and then someone tells you that they've outsourced their IT to EDS." Guerra questions, however, whether someone would actually read the lengthy Navy documents.

Porter gave a copy of the workforce guide to Gloria Parker, CIO at the De-partment of Housing and Urban Development, who expressed interest in introducing the information to the federal CIO Council. Officials at the Agriculture and Transportation departments are also interested in the Navy's work, Porter said.

"The idea of giving employees career guidance on how to move up from where they are, whether they're moving up in the same organization, changing organizations or specialties, or coming in as new employees, is something we're very interested in," said Jim Bouck, a member of the CIO Council's Federal IT Workforce Committee. "It's a priority for the committee."

The CIO Council has been drafting a career road map that would allow IT workers to plot a course toward proficiency in the core competencies defined under the Clinger-Cohen Act.

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