Digital Tech Corps bill revived

Would private-sector technology managers want to swap jobs with government agency employees? House and Senate members who worry about government competence with technology and a looming human capital crisis hope so.

A bill to make public- and private-sector job-swapping possible for up to two years has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio). The same legislation was introduced last summer in the House by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) but hasn't moved beyond the in-box at a House subcommittee.

The Digital Tech Corps Act would let information technology managers from the corporate world move into comparable federal agency jobs but retain their private-sector pay and benefits. Meanwhile, government IT workers at the GS-12 to GS-15 levels would take corporate jobs but keep their government pay and benefits.

Davis contends the bill would encourage "cross-pollination" that would bring industry IT expertise into government and invigorate IT programs that are intended to make the federal government more efficient.

Job swapping also would give private-sector managers firsthand experience inside federal agencies, which could prove valuable in securing government contracts. One supporter of the legislation is Accenture, a consulting company that landed more than $200 million worth of federal government contracts in 2001.

Although the bill has been dormant in the House for six months, "the atmosphere is right" for the bill to begin to advance, Davis spokesman David Marin said. Since the September terrorist attacks, there is renewed interest in public service, he said. And the bill's two-year job swap proposal corresponds well with President Bush's call for Americans to devote two years to public service, he said.

Davis asked Voinovich in January to lead efforts to get the bill moving in the Senate, Marin said.

Voinovich has been a Senate voice for government personnel reform. He began warning more than a year ago that the federal government faces serious personnel problems. One of the most pressing, Voinovich said, is that by 2004, more than half of all federal employees will be eligible for regular or early retirement.

Last fall, he introduced legislation to provide government managers with greater flexibility in hiring and paying government employees.

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