Treasury shrinks IT staff

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"A quick study"

The Treasury Department is cutting about 40 percent of the information technology jobs on its staff — about 75 jobs — and realigning the workforce.

The goal is to get rid of redundancies as part of an overall strategy to outsource more management functions, according to acting chief information officer Mayi Canales.

In the coming months, the CIO's staff will be cut from about 200 employees to about 125. The timing depends on human resources and finding new jobs for those whose positions will be eliminated.

"I'm cutting. I'm streamlining staff and improving performance and...aligning staff more with a business function," Canales said in an interview with Federal Computer Week July 15. "I'm getting ready to go more for managed services, less and less internal management, and more and more external management."

Canales is working to find jobs for the cut workers in other agencies or other areas of Treasury. Some people will be assigned to special details that may lead to job offers, she said.

"We'll keep them in special projects and help them until they get somebody," Canales said.

In analyzing her staff, Canales said she looked strictly at the functions of every job and determined that there were redundancies or other ways of doing the work.

For example, she said four people were handling workforce issues. But employees can get their own information from various IT sources, such as HR Connect, the department's online human resources system, or e-learning programs that help train workers for new jobs.

"Employees can do this for themselves," she said. "I don't have the dollars to spend on four people."

With a yearly IT budget of about $3.4 billion, Canales wants to invest in functions that will help build Treasury's technology infrastructure — and not fund those that don't.

Similar scenarios could arise across government as agencies try to stretch funds and avoid duplication and redundancies.

"The rest of the government is under directive from [the Office of Management and Budget] to cut back and reduce the number of federal jobs, open them up to the private sector," said a spokesman for the National Treasury Employees Union.

Under President Bush's plan, 170,000 federal jobs would be moved to the proposed Homeland Security Department. IT workers are already moving to the new Transportation Security Administration, which would be part of the department.

"While not tempting people to leave any particular agency to join TSA, I am always open to folks with the right credentials to come and help us achieve our aggressive mission objectives," said Patrick Schambach, CIO at TSA. "I already have some folks that came out of Treasury."

Nevertheless, the CIO Council's Workforce and Human Capital for IT Committee predicts a shortage of IT workers, according to Ira Hobbs, co-chairman of the committee. "It will lead us to not having enough folks with an IT perspective," he said.

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