Pursuing workers

According to government experts testifying Oct. 4 before the House Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, industry layoffs are good news for agencies hungry for skilled workers, but only in the short term.

"The downturn in the [information technology] market gives us a unique opportunity to recruit talent into the government," said David McClure, director of IT management issues at the General Accounting Office. Applications are pouring into GAO, but are only a "momentary blip on the long-term expected shortage" that most anticipate.

Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, said the government has yet to shift from its siloed, client/server environment to the network-based ways of the private sector, and until it does, the opportunity presented by hiring workers who have been laid off is "very spotty."

"I'm not sure we should get in competition as a government with the systems integrators that serve us," he added.

But Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said the government's mission is to get the "best value for the lowest cost" and that training initiatives will help "to bring some people into government [who] weren't available a year ago and keep them here."

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