Four CIOs name their biggest worries

Four CIOs name their biggest worries

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

APRIL 6—What most worries federal chief information officers? Four of them named an aging and shrinking information technology workforce, among other issues, during a luncheon today hosted by the Professional Services Council of Arlington, Va.

Paul Cosgrave of the IRS, Joseph Leo of Agriculture, George R. Molaski of Transportation and David B. Nelson of NASA talked about the chief challenges they face. High on the list were obstacles in retaining and attracting savvy new IT workers, building a reliable infrastructure, aligning technology with agency business processes and keeping pace with rapid technological development while constrained by tight budgets.

Cosgrave emphasized the importance of attracting new blood to the federal IT workforce.

"The average age at the IRS is 46. Our attrition rate is less than one percent," he said. "But most of our employees will be eligible for retirement in a few years. If we don't do something, we will soon be out of business."

Leo said his department has shrunk by more than 22,000 since 1993. He said Agriculture faces a tremendous challenge in providing electronic services to its customers if it lacks human resources.

"I am concerned with alignment of IT architecture with the human potential," Leo said. "I have to have the human talent to handle the IT systems."

Leo also said CIOs must realize they will not have all the answers and that the hierarchical chain of command is unraveling. Therefore "we have to provide an environment so a team can prosper."

Molaski added, "The biggest problem is we have techies talking to techies, but they are not the ones who own the programs in the government."

Nelson said security is a key concern of the NASA IT shop.

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