On the horizon?

CIOs expect to use more contractor personnel

Most top-level information officers in the federal government are using contract personnel to make up for shortages in their IT work forces, a GCN executive survey has found. Seventeen CIOs, deputy CIOs and chief technology officers responded to the survey late last month.

About three-quarters said they are contracting tasks to industry to accommodate work force deficits, while 19 percent said in-house workers are picking up the excess workload.

A few both hired contractors and depended on in-house workers to fill the void. More than half contract out 30 percent or more of their IT jobs.

Moreover, a majority expected to hire more outside personnel in the next 24 months, citing an increasing amount of IT work at their agencies and the need for more highly specialized IT support.

Despite the surge in outsourcing, every one of the CIOs in the survey agreed that some IT jobs are not just mission critical but inherently governmental in nature and should not be turned over to industry.

The government especially needs in-house managers with the skills to oversee contracting personnel, one CIO commented.

'The government IT shortfall is a serious matter,' said the CIO. 'More and more outsourcing is still going to require a level of government oversight and expertise.'

Security managers and project managers topped the CIOs' list of wants.

CIOs also reported shortages in network services and policy and planning.

One agency CIO especially coveted project managers with hands-on experience in software development.

More than half of the CIOs said they were focusing their recruiting efforts on specialty areas, such as project managers and security specialists. Agencies also need to focus on hiring mid-level workers to make up for retirement losses, one CIO said.

'The government as a whole is not recruiting junior-level folks at the rate that senior IT professionals are retiring,' the CIO said.

Nearly three-quarters of CIOs in the survey agreed that the government still has a human capital crisis, despite a slowdown in rate of federal retirements in the last year or so.
But 29 percent didn't see a crisis.

'Between federal hiring and contractor support we have sufficient human capital,' said one agency CIO. 'We just need to manage it.'

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