Online Extra: Hiring, keeping the best IT workers

Here is a complete list of verbatim comments from respondents to a GCN e-mail survey about the Bush administration's work-force policies and competitive sourcing/A-76 initiative.

What do you think the government can do to hire and retain the best IT workers?

Include participatory management and respect employees.

[Provide] career ladders.

Recruit interns and consultants already in place'compete against its vendors.

Better plan and implement contracts such as the Navy's NMCI contract. This is one of the worst planned and worst executed plans I've had the misfortune to encounter.

Get rid of the dinosaurs.

Invest in current IT technology.

Hire more former military/federal workers back.

Why ask for uninformed guesses when you should be asking the 'best' IT workers who leave the government...

Find workers who know what they are doing not just a "paper" it.

Actively recruit at career fests.

Hire people from outside government. I am a perfect example with government and outside experience and have been applying to go back to government and I have not heard anything.

Remove hiring corruption.

Better working conditions.

Re: perks and benefits'things like on-site child care and fitness centers are very important

Provide meaningful work beyond watching contractors.

Provide a stable environment.

Broaden training requirements.

Better offices.

Train those who have been in the agency awhile that know the work processes.

Stop the IT outsourcing.

Start hiring skilled people as opposed to retraining "clerks" for IT positions.

Create apprenticeship programs with security clearances.

Streamline security processing



Do you think that the Bush administration's competitive sourcing/A-76 initiative will fulfill the administration's goal of making government performance more effective and efficient?

Just trying to get rid of civilian employees.

It's killing morale.

Those outside government or high up in government have this misconception that contract workers are better than government employees. I've worked with enough contractors to know that is not true. Both private and public sectors have proportionally the same number of good people and not so good people.

Jobs are being outsourced without allowing government employees to compete; cost of contract is more than if job remained in-house.

Government performance will never be effective and efficient if it continues to overwork IT personnel with no recognition for what IT personnel are accomplishing. Supervisors must listen to ideas submitted by their employees and trust the judgement of the people that are actually completing the tasks.

There is a security and fairness tradeoff.

The administration's efforts are making us rethink the way we manage and justify costs and return on IT projects'will they keep up the process with the departure of Mitch Daniels?

If you got really top contractors, it might. But since the competition is based on cost, you will get the lesser contractors

In 30 years of civil service I have never seen one time where the A-76 really ever saved money. Once the government workers are out and the contractor is in there is no going back and the cost go up every year. Cost is always chosen over performance and effectiveness. Jobs and functions are reduced to the lowest common denominator for the performance statement by the management team doing the study, and that is what the contractors bid on. Meantime in the real world in order to really do the job right there are many other things that get left out of the work statement because they are to hard to describe.

Government IT workers work for the government. Their loyalties lie with their employer, the government. Outsourced workers work for their companies and are loyal to their profit margin. Of course, they will always put their employers' interests first, rather than the interests of the government.

Many of these questions 1-9 were biased.

Not sure.

As long as contractors are able to bid with temps, the playing field will not be level enough to compete fairly.

I worked for NASA, an agency that relies heavily on contractor labor, from 1994 until 2001. My experience has been that contract labor is much more expensive due to the management overhead of the contractor and their need to make a profit. The higher cost per contractor hour does not get reflected at the IT specialist level. Many of the contractor IT specialists that I worked with would prefer to be NASA civil servants because NASA offers better pay and benefits to employees performing comparable work.

I think government will become more costly, and crucial skills that are acquired only by experience will suffer a shortage

A-76 is old'the concept is OK but there needs to be a level playing field when assessing government vs. private sector option'needs to be more criteria

Government workers need the same pressure as contractors to produce or be replaced.

It is just the beginning, we must give it a chance, and learn from the mistakes!

Contracting out government IT does not usually work.

I believe the outsourcing is to break the unions, benefit big corporations and the Congressmen/women that vote for outsourcing our jobs.

Short term'maybe. Long term'doubtful

IN THE LONG RUN, AFTER THEY HAVE FIRED THE GOVERNMENT WORKERS, THE PRIVATE SECTOR WILL BE ABLE TO CHARGE THE GOVERNMENT MORE FOR THEIR SERVICES. WHICH WILL WIND UP COSTING MUCH MORE.

I believe it is one more avenue that the dedicated'not dead weight'employee is be taking advantage of. Many of us have spent our whole career working for the government to have the rug pulled out from under us as we near retirement age. I believe this is one more way to get rid of the old retirement system. Starting at this late point in my life is like starting over again at 20 without the benefit of being 20.

The A-76 is demoralizing to government employees, more work with fewer benefits. Also, we are not receiving enough training to do our jobs well. We are not budgeting enough resources for employee training and support.

Morale is down already. If a contractor gets the bid and fails, an agency will no longer have the personnel to compete to get the work back and government is already having problems retaining
skilled IT workers.

[Outsourcing] costs more, eliminates control and hides true cost of government.

I just came from the private sector and outsourcing is a joke. It works if you want to staff your canteen or do the janitorial work but not for any serious part of your business.

As a contractor working in a government agency it is clear to me that agency leaders are ill-informed about the skill-sets that are required to streamline their organizations. They rely on what an underqualified employee tells them whose agenda is JOB SECURITY. The government needs more professionals on staff and should compensate them accordingly. That college education and certifications do not come cheap'not to mention continued training up!

The gains, if any, are very short term and the costs of not investing in government employees will be very high over the long term.

Contractors come and go. The one thing the Ivory Tower folks always fail to consider is the corporate knowledge they lose when a contractor assumes responsibility. Knowing how an command operates is an integral part of supporting that activity. Contracts like the Navy's NMCI treat all commands the same. That never is and never will be the case. A second concern of mine is that there appears to be no fallback position if contract arrangements should fail. In addition, I am convinced that once a contract like NMCI is in place, the contractor has the upper hand in all future renewals. If they insist on extensive cost increases, what do you do? Changing contractors would be both disruptive and painful.

How about the employees? Are we going to forget about them?

We have a lot of good IT government workers who are not given the opportunity to advance because of outsourcing.

Bidders always will come in lower, but will jack up their costs over the long-term once the contract is signed and all in-house positions have been eliminated.

I think it WILL put money in Republican contributor's coffers.

At first it will appear to make performance more effective and efficient because someone else is running it, but after the initial installation and configuration, jobs will cease to have growth potential and employees will be locked into low paying jobs. Job dissatisfaction will result...etc.
Contractors are always lowest bidder. Therefore, their people are untrained and poorly paid. They learn all their skills from government workers and, after a year or two they leave. High turnover and unskilled labor does not make the government more effective and efficient.

A-76 does not work. Sure, money is saved by paying contractors less, but the quality and quantity of work is less than acceptable in most cases. The usual smoke & mirrors philosophy reigns supreme....

A-76 initiatives have good intentions but low-bids do not necessarily equate to best product.

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