Critical Read

Losing the tech talent sweepstakes

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What: "A Future of Failure? The Flow of Technology Talent into Government and Civil Society," a report by Freedman Consulting that was commissioned by the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Why: In the Digital Age, ensuring the development of technology talent and filling the pipeline with potential future workers are essential to keeping the government relevant and making it an appealing place to work.

Unfortunately, the government and civil society, which includes nonprofit organizations and churches, are losing the battle for talented technology professionals to the for-profit sector. The report's authors concluded that the major obstacles in hiring and retaining such individuals are compensation and culture.

The report recommends increasing the connections between federal agencies and potential employees through internships and fellowships, advertising technological career opportunities in the government, and developing partnerships with academic institutions.

Verbatim: "Technology talent is a key need in government and civil society, but the current state of the pipeline is inadequate to meet that need. The bad news is that existing institutions and approaches are insufficient to build and sustain this pipeline, particularly in the face of sharp for-profit competition. The good news is that stakeholders interviewed identified a range of organizations and practices that, at scale, have the potential to make an enormous difference."

Full report: FordFoundation.org

About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

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Reader comments

Mon, Dec 16, 2013 RayW

Hmmm...this article is counter to others I have read that rant that government workers are overpaid compared to industry.

Although having worked in industry and having been given the choice of (many years ago) of industry at twice the starting offer of the Federal Government with pay based upon merit instead of socialism like we have again, I chose the industry. In the long run I came out ahead when I went to Civil Service during the economic downturn in the late 1990's and started out at a step much higher than my peers and many of my seniors.

But as the Government tries to avoid being held captive to industry and to be able to intelligently make decisions on as well as create faster than a contract can, this will be a major issue - a fine balance of responsibility to the taxpayers in size of government vice cost for companies that gouge the government in the name of profit and power.

Caveat: My view from an engineer's perspective.

Sat, Dec 14, 2013

In a ploy to appease the masses, the government has decided to cut corners, and one of the simplest ones to cut is IT. And what's been cut the deepest is how they treat the people in IT, especially the people who do the work. So many will talk about how much is being spent in IT, but the balk at talking about the things they're doing to attract and keep IT workers. You end up with great servers being run by many unhappy administrators.

Fri, Dec 13, 2013 utopia27 United States

Or... you could make working for government NOT SUCK.

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