White House officials to huddle on future of federal workforce

By Andrea Izzotti shutterstock id 147037244 

The federal technology workforce, said Federal CIO Suzette Kent, lags behind the commercial sector, and the government needs to do better at predicting  what "work looks like in the future."

Kent said she will take those issues up at a White House workforce panel being held Sept. 12.

The day-long White House session to convene at the neighboring Eisenhower Executive Office Building, said sources familiar with the event, draws experts from good-government groups, academia and the federal government to address federal technology workforce issues.

The federal technology workforce, she said, "has to make sure we're not just moving up levels from a management perspective and that we're actually looking at the skills individuals have to have to be successful in the environment they're working in."

In IT, that means emerging technologies and different operating models, such as shared services or services that are provided externally to the federal government, she said at the Professional Services Council's Tech Trends Conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11.

 "What we're talking about with the workforce session, is ways that we engage public-private partnerships, ways that we sustain a commitment to retention, to recruitment and to ongoing education for individuals who are in the federal government," Kent said.

In previous work in the private sector, Kent said she saw emerging technologies such as automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning transform commercial industry. Those same technologies are also important for federal agencies.

Contracts that help the federal government's move to the cloud and shared services, said Kent, are accelerating changes. "With cloud email," she said, "we're at a point where we've moved over half, and we're aggressively moving the rest of the federal government because email phishing is one of the top attack vectors."

Commercially available services and shared services, she said, allow agencies to accelerate certain functions, but also focus more on their missions.

The "nexus" of the President's Management Agenda, the White House's "attention to technology leadership" as well as bipartisan Congressional support for the  technology agenda and the commitment to provide technological resources  have provided an unprecedented opportunity to drive federal technology innovation ahead, she said.

"If we move our ordinary applications to shiny new technology and we don't challenge how we operate differently or how we serve citizens, I'll say that we've failed and missed an historic opportunity."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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