House passes IT employee exchange program

House passes IT employee exchange program

Federal and private-sector employees are a step closer to being able to switch jobs. The House by voice vote today passed the Digital Tech Corps Act of 2002 to give midlevel IT employees opportunities to learn from work with private companies and to share that knowledge with their agencies. Employees who participate in the program would be able to switch jobs for up to two years.

'The bill has a simple premise: Through partnership, the public and private sector can do a better job of tackling government's IT skills shortage than the government can do alone,' said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who sponsored the bill. 'It will improve the skills of federal IT managers by exposing them to cutting-edge management trends in the private sector, and help federal agencies recruit and retain talented IT managers by offering them a valuable career development tool.'

The bill included two amendments that would require the Office of Personnel Management to submit to Congress a report on the adequacy of existing IT training programs and that 20 percent of the federal workers detailed be placed in small businesses.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) tried to add an amendment to the bill that would have limited private employees' access to trade secrets of other companies. The amendment, however, was defeated 219-204.

'We considered the Waxman amendment unnecessary,' said David Marin, spokesman for Davis. 'We think we have taken care of his concerns with the most stringent ethics provisions ever in a bill.'

The bill places a lifetime ban on revealing trade secrets and imposes a criminal penalty of up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Davis said a number of private-sector companies, including Accenture LLP of Chicago, will commit employees to the program upon its enactment.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate where Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) introduced a companion version of the bill in February.

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