IT workforce hurting e-gov

OMB home page

One of the biggest things standing in the way of e-government is the quality of agencies' information technology personnel, said Mitchell Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The IT professionals in government are doing a good job, but "they are probably not the best the nation has to offer," Daniels said. "I'm not sure we have cutting-edge leadership."

The government's human capital problems—one of five items on President Bush's management agenda—are becoming clearer within the administration as OMB goes through reports that agencies submitted this year, Daniels said. Personnel problems are affecting matters ranging from the movement to e-government to agencies' ability to make the best contracting decisions, he said.

For the most part, the workers are doing what is asked of them, and they are doing it to the best of their abilities, Daniels said. But the federal workforce environment—from the old civil service structure to the broken recruitment and retention process—is ensuring that existing employees are not getting the training they need, and experienced people from the private sector are staying away, he said.

Every agency will not be expected to make the same changes because in areas like the IT workforce, a lack of skills usually is the problem, not an excess of personnel. But a new picture of the federal workforce is emerging as OMB leans toward an even smaller government than the one that exists today.

"What data we have suggests that the ultimate net effect will probably be reduction," Daniels said at a luncheon in Washington, D.C., July 25 sponsored by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

OMB officials asked agencies in their reports on human capital to account for what they believe they have, what they need and how to fill the gap. The reports range in quality and quantity, with one coming in at 300 pages and another at only three.

So far, especially when discussing the middle-manager level, the reports are "highly suggestive of excess," Daniels said.

OMB is going to try to make reductions "in a smart way" and not ask agencies to simply make across-the-board cuts regardless of context, he said. Of primary concern is providing training and incentives to keep skilled employees in place and to bring in new personnel from the private sector, he said.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.