Trading places: Feds, industry to swap managers

Federal Register proposed rule

Is the grass greener on the other side of the information technology fence? Federal government and industry IT managers may soon find out.

The Information Technology Exchange Program, authorized in the E-Government Act of 2002, would allow IT managers to trade places with their government or industry counterparts to improve their knowledge and skills. Officials from the Office of Personnel Management issued a proposed rule today outlining how the program would work.

"Agency heads, or their designees, may approve details as a mechanism for improving the federal workforce's competency in using information technology to deliver government information and services," the notice states.

Under the program, managers would volunteer for details ranging from three months to one year in the field of IT management. The assignment may be extended in three-month increments for an additional year. Only candidates considered exceptional performers are qualified, and they must be serving at the GS-11 level or above. Federal employees retain their government benefits, such as leave accrual and promotion consideration, while working in the private sector. At least 20 percent of assignments must go to small businesses, the notice states. The proposal would require participating agencies to devise a plan that outlines which agency officials approve assignments, the number of candidates needed to satisfy the agency's IT needs, procedures for choosing them and record-keeping requirements to document the program.

Agency officials are expected to submit semiannual reports to OPM in April and October, following the six-month periods ending March 31 and Sept. 30, according to the rule. OPM officials must also submit semiannual reports to Congress on the program.

Officials from OPM will consider comments to the proposed rule until March 15, 2004.

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