IT skills survey due

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — The results of a September 2003 governmentwide survey assessing the bench strength of the federal information technology workforce are expected at the end of this month, officials said.

The survey, conducted by the Chief Information Officer Council's Workforce and Human Capital for IT Committee, asked each department and agency to answer the same questions, said Janet Barnes, committee co-chairwoman and CIO at the Office of Personnel Management.

"The agencies are then encouraged to do analysis, and we are currently encouraging CIOs to institutionalize IT workforce planning using this tool," Barnes said, speaking today at the CIO Summit sponsored by FCW Media Group.

The governmentwide skills assessment survey, due out by the end of May, is one of several workforce CIO Council initiatives and was required by the E-Government Act of 2002, Barnes said. Although she couldn't reveal the report's results, she said the average government IT worker is between 46 and 50 years old, with 37 percent of the workforce older; holds a GS-13 level position with more than 20 years of government experience; and is likely to retire in the next 10 to 20 years. The survey also revealed that 19 percent of the IT workers are eligible to retire in less than three years, but only 11 percent said they planned to do so.

The next survey will be conducted in July, Barnes said. This year, officials are also crafting a target state for the IT workforce, so once they assess the current skills, agency officials map them to the target environment for better workforce planning, she said.

A second workforce initiative under way at the council is the development of a career road map that allows personnel to self-assess their skill level based on the competencies required for their current positions or desired future jobs. They can then map their necessary training. The success with this initiative is prompting OPM officials to develop similar self-assessments for financial, acquisition and human relations personnel, Barnes said.

Council members are also drafting project management guidelines to establish standards to classify levels of project management personnel governmentwide. The levels will be determined by criteria such as the size and type of projects and the skills and education needed to manage them.

OPM officials have also taken on the issue of the IT workforce in the past few years, Barnes said. In 2001, the office redefined the professional series for IT workers, assigning more meaningful job descriptions and duties the help with career training. Last year, this was further expanded with the creation of the project manager position.

"Workforce issues have been a key agenda item from the beginning," said Barnes, who has been OPM's CIO and the committee's co-chairwoman since 1996.

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