Government gets mixed grades

The federal government gets good marks from its own workers for introducing information technology systems in the workplace, but failing ones for neglecting to upgrade systems after they are put in place, a new study said Tuesday.

A lack of resources and problems including keeping systems current and the continuing downsizing of the workforce has made working for the government difficult, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution.

"Our survey clearly shows that the federal government spends too much time experimenting with the latest management fads and too little time providing its employees with the information, technology, training and staff needed to achieve the government's mission," said Paul Light, author of the report and director of the Center for Public Service.

The report is based on a survey of 1,051 federal workers and 500 private-sector employees. It concluded that the government has failed to make the federal workplace attractive to the most talented Americans.

"Day after day, [the federal government] asks too many of its employees to do the nearly impossible," Light said.

At a briefing, Light said a "substantial" number of people come to work every day wanting to make a difference, but they don't have the support to do their jobs. And 59 percent of those surveyed said they rarely have the tools they need to do their jobs.

"We are seeing the effects of under-investing for two decades," Light said.

Nevertheless, IT was identified as the top reform in the federal government even though government failed to keep the systems up-to-date after they are installed.

"You may have a computer, but not e-mail," Light said. "They have made a lot of progress, but they need to get into the routine of upgrading."

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