Letters to the editor

Job Descriptions Antique

Is it not surprising that Mitchell Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, was quoted as saying that federal information technology workers "are probably not the best the nation has to offer" ["Daniels: Fed IT workers "not the best,'" FCW, July 30]. After all, we are just a bunch of people who were grand.fathered into the computer age by virtue of being there when PCs came into the work area, aren't we? WRONG! Many of us are "not the best" because there is no money for IT education in our budget, and if we wish to keep up with technology, we must pay our own way. As new technology is integrated into government, IT workers' education in new technology is missing. The full current cost for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer classes in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 is between $7,000 and $9,000 for each person. How will a federal IT worker recoup that cost? Wages? Not at this pay scale.

With the experience that is out there, an IT employee should be able to make more in the private sector than his counterpart in government. This and the fact that the Office of Personnel Management has stratified IT workers by assigning higher wages to certain groups as incentive to stay has divided the IT workforce into "us" and "them." Unfortunately, workers under the OPM classifications of 0301 (computer operator) and 0335 (computer assistant), to mention a couple, have in many cases shouldered the same duties as the 0334s (the computer specialist series, which is being reclassified as 2210). Why does management assign duties that should be 2210 series work to the GS-5s and GS-7s in the 0335 and 0301 series and not reclassify the job? It all comes down to training and equal pay. If you train us and pay us for the job we are doing now not for the job description that was written 10 years ago we will stay and be proficient in our jobs.

As far as the program that swaps federal midlevel IT managers with private counterparts ["Life on the other side," FCW, Aug. 6] well, I have never seen any parallel in the way the private and federal sectors do management. Those are two different and opposite thought processes.

William Crouch
System administrator
Computer assistant

GPRA Fairy Tale

Wow, attacking the comptroller general is pretty gutsy stuff! But more power to Milt Zall for speaking out in opposition to the usual rhetoric used by these "powercrats" who endeavor to indoctrinate us with more and more propaganda ["GPRA and government business", FCW, July 30].

I have been a casualty of outsourcing on both sides of the fence. First, it was under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara when he deposed much of the contractor technical workforce from the government in the late '60s during the Johnson admini.stration. Again, I fell to the sword of President Nixon in the early '70s as a result of his drastic aerospace cutbacks (I was still a contractor with NASA), and again in the '80s when President Reagan embarked on outsourcing after I transitioned into flight simulators as a civil servant.

Once again, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet grim reaper has caught up with me as I await being outsourced into oblivion for the sake of advancing information technology into the private sector.

To the best of my knowledge, no one seemed to care then or now about the true impact of these outsourcing tactics! As a casualty of the process, I have had to retrain and start over in allied career fields, only to do it all over again as each new masterful plan was concocted by the powercrats who control our destiny. Moreover, the majority of the reports published so far indicate that outsourcing is usually proven to be unjustified in consideration of direct cost comparisons.

It seems to me that the Government Performance and Results Act is just another attempt to force the results to satisfy the predetermined objectives! Further, in response to Zall's question "How do you feel about this?" I doubt that GPRA supporters have any intention of divulging accountability, or providing a metric for realistic measurement.

I wholeheartedly support your position in that these public officials continue to recite fairy tales, expecting the masses out here to swallow their garbage. It smacks of the same technique used by Dr. Joseph Goebbels to expound the propaganda of Nazi Germany. They're all "spin doctors" wearing another mantle!

William Reiter
Naval Air Command Systems


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