Expect 2003's hot topics to still be hot next year

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Hot Topics

It's been a year of hot management and procurement topics for the GCN Reader Survey.

Take competitive sourcing'please, according to a vast majority of our survey respondents.

The debate has been fierce this year over competitive sourcing'a major item on the President's Management Agenda'and its chief instrument of implementation, OMB Circular A-76.

The White House and its allies on Capitol Hill want to overhaul A-76, which supplies a format for comparing the costs of in-house against commercial services and letting contractors and federal employees compete for the work.

But a GCN survey in July on competitive sourcing found that few rank-and-file IT managers are buying the Office of Management and Budget's hard sell.

In fact, more than three-quarters in the survey said they view A-76 as simply a means to outsource government jobs to industry.

Moreover, most survey participants said the A-76 effort is having a negative impact on the morale of government workers. 'Morale is down already,' grumbled a civilian-agency manager.

Another item on the President's Management Agenda is the strategic use of human capital. In June, GCN examined government IT work force trends and the much-discussed crisis in human capital.

Sixty-three percent of respondents reported a shortage of IT workers at their agencies but fewer than a third said their agencies are doing enough to recruit and retain IT specialists.
'There's not enough staff to do the work,' a systems specialist said.

IT project management is another big issue. OMB has initiated a push to require commercial certification for federal project managers. In an August survey, nearly half of respondents agreed that OMB's certification drive is a good idea.

At the same time, most managers in the survey said that project management experience and a successful track record were the most important qualifications. Certification came in third on the list. 'There's nothing like hands-on, real-world experience,' a General Services Administration IT specialist said.

Want some insight on other major issues in government IT this year? Take a look back at 2003 surveys on key trends in public-key infrastructure, e-mail and e-records policies, wireless technologies, wireless security and mobile computing.

No doubt most of these issues will still be on the front burner in 2004

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