SSA bracing for IT worker retirements, IG says

Agency has hired 1.3 IT workers for every 1 who has left for seven years

The Social Security Administration may need to beef up its hiring and retention efforts of information technology specialists as it faces a wave of IT staff retirements from now until 2016, according to a new report from SSA's Office of Inspector General.

As of June 2009, SSA employed about 3,700 IT specialists, which is about 6 percent of its workforce. About 42 percent of the IT specialists are expected to retire by fiscal 2016, the report issued March 15 states.

To cope with the exodus, SSA should continue its recruitment, hiring, training and retention efforts, the report recommended.

“It is imperative that SSA focus on its human capital needs as its workloads increase and their complexity requires an increased level of expertise and skill,” the report stated.

Overall, SSA has done a good job of filling its IT specialist jobs, which involve mission-critical competencies in desktop management, problem-solving and Web technologies, the document stated, adding that over the last seven years, the SSA has hired about four new IT specialists for each three IT specialists who have left the agency.

However, even though the SSA efforts were adequate on average over the seven years, most of the hiring was done in fiscal 2005 and 2009, with 396 and 378 IT specialists added in those years, respectively. The net increase for those two years was 457 specialists, after subtracting those who left the agency during those years, the IG said.

But in fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2007 the SSA had trouble filling its IT specialist spots. Those two years netted a loss of 160 IT specialists overall.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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