Letters to the editor

Create Employee Participation Site

In regard to the e-gov initiative ["OMB seeks e-gov ideas via e-mail," FCW, Aug. 13], I would like to see a single Web site for the things that all civilian federal employees participate in, such as Federal Employees Group Life Insurance, the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, the Combined Federal Campaign and others.

Each employee would go to the Web site, complete the information and submit it to his/her agency. The agency's personnel office would then use the Web site to process the action, and the resulting information would be transferred automatically and electronically to the appropriate agency (the Office of Personnel Management?). At the same time, necessary information would be transferred automatically and electronically to the employee's personnel/payroll database.

The goal here is to have no paper forms for these types of actions and have all information delivered electronically to the agencies that need it.

Carolyn Miller
National Science Foundation

Merge Government Forms Online

It would be great if all government forms could be available at one location, such as a Web site or portal. Then, we could see how many forms could be merged so that there would be fewer of them. It would also give us an opportunity to work toward more common data across the forms.

This would help both government and nongovernment users. It would also save money — one product would be used to capture and maintain forms vs. many products being bought, maintained and used across the government. There would be greater interoperability in that one forms package would be used. The forms package would allow users to fill out the form and electronically send it to an organization or individual. Also, users could save the data on their workstation for later re-use and revision.

If users didn't want to send information electronically, they could save the data at the forms site and give out a password that the receiving person/organization would use to get the form with the data. They could go in and periodically change the password so that they would have control as to who could retrieve the data from any particular form.

Mike Chase
Defense Information Systems Agency

Tired of Criticism

The government information technology workforce is getting tired of being "slammed" ["Daniels: Fed IT workers "not the best,'" FCW, July 30] by others.

The key to building a better government IT workforce in today's fast-paced IT world is to work with those of us who are here for the duration and who "DO the WORK." Provide funds for training, don't attempt to contract us out, match our civilian counterparts' salaries, and then leave us alone.

Name withheld by request

Training Gets Shortchanged

One reason high on the list of why government skills in general may be lacking is the absence of training dollars. Technology changes so rapidly that you need to continually upgrade your skills to stay on top.

Federal workers do not get the training budget that companies have. IT companies send their employees and managers to paid training classes when needed.

We [at the Navy's Pacific Northwest Regional Information Technology Center] have to fight for one class a year, and it has to be in Seattle so we don't incur travel costs. Managers in our organization usually give their training dollars to the employees because there are not enough funds for everyone to even have one class.

Name withheld by request

Inept Managers Hurt

It is not the IT professionals in the trenches who are the problem, it is the ineptness of the people they must 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 think new carpet is more important than sending their network administrators for training — yet expect them to pull rabbits out of the hat every time there is a problem.

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, members of management have been forced to deal with something they will not admit they know nothing about.

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

Name withheld by request

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