Letter to the Editor

I concur that the federal government is a few dollars short and too late on the effort to maintain the information technology expertise that is required to take us into the 21st century. The special pay rates that went into effect in January were way overdue. However, the raise missed the mark. It needed to include all grades.

I have been in the IT profession for 25 years — first as an active-duty Marine officer and then as a federal employee. I could have made more money on the outside, but I have stayed with the federal government because of patriotism.

If anyone thinks that you do not need to pay the upper grades better to stay, stop and look at the big picture. The Federal Employees Retirement System was designed to allow people to move from the federal government to the private sector more easily. There is no carrot — the Civil Service Retirement System — to dangle like the government did in the 1960s. This generation is now passing the torch, but there is no one to pass it to.

IT touches our lives every day. We have become dependent on it. Without it we cannot function. My Marine friends tell me, "IT is not a core competency. It does not put bullets downrange." There is one small error in this theory. The bullets have to get to the Marine in the field before they can go downrange, and they will not get there without information technology. IT also helps put those bullets downrange accurately.

We need to make sure IT professionals are just that — professionals. I am a strong advocate of a professional certification program for all IT professionals — both private sector and governmental. We require accountants, nurses, doctors and others to be nationally certified. Why is there not the same requirement for the IT professionals? These people affect our lives every day.

Harry McDole Jr. Marine Corps

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