Letter to the Editor

I would like to take issue with Mr. Daniels' assessment of information technology professionals in government. "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 ["IT workforce hurting e-gov"].

It is not the IT professionals in the trenches who are the problem, it is the ineptness of the people they have to answer to — the managers who are not IT professionals and have no clue.

The problem lies with the people who hold the purse strings and who think new carpet is more important than sending their network administrators for training and yet expect them to pull rabbits out of the hat every time there is a problem.

Don't try to be proactive — there is no room in these managers' heads for anything that isn't right in front of their noses. Good IT management requires a lot of thinking outside the box; proactive planning through an abstract thought process at times. It just doesn't happen the way you put it on paper all the time.

Just because someone has managed to hang onto a government job for 15 years or so does not make them experts in managing IT resources. Oh, by the way, don't agencies always tell us that people are their most important resource?

If private companies ran their IT business the way I have seen government managers run the IT departments I have been associated with, they would be in deep trouble when it came to the bottom line of their balance sheets.

Having worked in both the private sector and in the government, I can tell you that these so-called managers would not make the grade out there in the "real IT world." Because of the explosion of IT-dependent processes, the management personnel have been forced to deal with something they will not admit they know nothing about.

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

Based on what I have seen, I can agree with him that we do not have "cutting-edge leadership." That is a good part of the problem. The leadership doesn't really know what is going on. Major decisions are made at such a high level that by the time they filter down to the IT workers who are putting it all together, the orders make no sense.

Mr. Daniels also points out that "existing employees are not getting the training they need, and experienced people from the private sector are staying away."

It's about time the government started taking a good look at the core of dedicated workers that keeps the processes going and supported. The ones who amount to "dead wood" should be given the opportunity to move on.

I for one like what I do. I just don't feel my skills are valued, and there is no respect for what I do. Computers have been the focus of my career in one form or another for more than 20 years, long before these managers even dreamed of having PCs on their desks, let alone a network in their organization.

I have tried to move with the times and keep up with what I need to know through training on my own, but it doesn't seem to do much good. Greener pastures are beckoning. In some cases the grass is greener on the other side. Perhaps I should sit tight, wait for my job to go contract and get hired by a contractor who has good IT management and who has what the customer needs as his central focus because they would value my skills and pay me a better salary as well. Bears some thinking about, doesn't it?

Name withheld by request


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