OMB, CIO Council to assess IT workforce gaps

Even though two recent surveys indicated that the federal IT workforce crisis is not as bad as once thought, the CIO Council wants agencies to figure out their employees' current skills sets and their future needs.

In effect, the council is asking agencies to apply the enterprise architecture methodology to their workforce needs, said Ira Hobbs, Treasury Department CIO and co-chairman of the Workforce and Human Capital for IT committee.

'We want them to figure out their as-is, their to-be and how they will get from here to there,' Hobbs said during a CIO Council report at the FOSE 2005 trade show this week in Washington. 'We've identified three areas that are critical, but that is not all that is critical.'

Hobbs said the Office of Management and Budget found that agencies need more project managers, enterprise architects and IT security experts, but there may be other skills feds need to pick up.

To collect this information, the administration will direct agencies to submit a plan by Aug. 30 to close their skill gaps, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT. Evans said a letter with specific guidance will go out in the next week to agency executives from Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management.

OMB and the Office of Personnel Management will review the plans and look for trends in specific agencies and among agencies governmentwide, Evans said.

One survey by the Partnership for Public Service, the National Academy of Public Administration and the New York Times found agencies will hire only 3,292 IT workers over the next two years (See GCN story). And a recent CIO Council report found more IT employees are remaining in their jobs and that their skills are not diminishing.

Hobbs said the council will take a two-pronged approach to understanding and filling IT workforce needs:

  • What skills are needed to meet the requirements of the President's Management Agenda?

  • What are the gaps, based on mission needs?

'We will ask agencies about their broad needs, but if there is a specific employee category that is unique to that agency, we want to know about it,' Hobbs said. 'We may end up building a case that more than one agency has this need.'

Hobbs added that for some of these positions agencies may be able to use the direct hire authority OPM instituted in 2003.

'Any agency can ask for direct hire authority,' Hobbs said. 'We are trying to make sure CIOs are aware of it.'

Once these plans are in place, Hobbs said agencies still would depend on the usual set of tools for workforce training. But, he said, more feds are using the CIO University, a collection of 17 universities around the country offering curricula based on core IT skills outlined in the Clinger Cohen Act.

Hobbs said of the 150 students that will graduate in June, about 60 are federal employees, a significant increase over the last few years.

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