GAO, OPM:  IT skills gap remains a critical concern

Despite efforts to close the skills gap in IT and cybersecurity within the federal government, the two areas remain in the Government Accountability Office’s crosshairs as in need of more attention.

In a Sept. 19 hearing before a Senate subcommittee, John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Gene Dodaro, U.S. comptroller general and head of GAO, addressed the dearth of qualified IT professionals and the challenges in bridging the skills gap.

GAO in 2001 designated strategic human capital management a high-risk area across the federal government because of lack of leadership and attention, Dodaro told Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.

The hearing was Akaka’s last before retiring after a 36-year tenure in Congress.

Since 2001, Congress has passed several bills to help agencies address human capital management issues. In additional to establishing chief human capital officers in each agency, the enactment of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 granted more flexibility for the workforce and helped managers handle various human capital challenges. 

However, one of the reasons human capital remains on the high-risk list is the lack of critical skills in areas including cybersecurity, the acquisition workforce and foreign-language capabilities, Dodaro said.

The matter becomes even more urgent considering that 30 percent of employees will be eligible to retire between now and 2016, he said. In certain agencies, such as Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration, that number reaches 40 percent. Moreover, among the Senior Executive Service and career leadership, 58 percent are eligible to retire over the same time span.

“This is a huge challenge, with already-existing skill gaps,” Dodaro said.

To deal with the impediments, it’s important for the executive branch to provide good leadership and for Congress to provide oversight and attention, he said. 
 
In response to questioning, Dodaro said the  Chief Human Capital Officers Council and Congress would do well to address effective planning and finding the root causes of skill gaps and fixing them.

There also needs to be solid plans for retaining and recruiting talent, which means getting OPM involved in helping agencies use effective hiring flexibilities in areas such as special pay rates, Dodaro noted.

“Thirdly, there needs to be follow-up … this needs to be a continuous process,” he added

In discussing how OPM officials are assisting agencies address mission-critical skill gaps, Berry said the Chief Human Capital Officers Council identified five occupations and three competencies that face strategic challenges.

IT, human resources and acquisition professionals, as well as program auditors and economists are professions that regularly have a hard time recruiting, Berry said. In addition to these areas, gaps lie in strategic thinking, problem solving and data analysis. Each agency also has its own unique challenges depending on its mission and workforce; for example, the Agriculture Department finds it difficult to recruit enough veterinarians.

“We can’t expect these skills to just come to us,” Berry said, “so we’re going to universities to see if we can work with them to help make sure that the graduates they put out have these three key elements.”

Each agency has been charged with creating a work plan to address the deficiencies, and address ways for improvement, retention and continuing development, Berry said, stressing how IT and cybersecurity particularly require up-to-date skills. 

“As you, Mr. Chairman, and Sen. [Ronald] Johnson know, the bad guys are changing their game and we need to change with them – we need to always be at the top of our game in that sense from the federal government’s perspective,” Berry said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.