Unleashing Digital Talent in the Next Administration

From NextGov:

W. Scott Gould is a senior adviser at Boston Consulting Group and former deputy secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. Jeffrey Neal is a senior vice president at ICF International, former chief human capital officer for the Homeland Security Department, and publisher of the blog ChiefHRO.com.

This is the first part in a series of two columns.

The adage “good help is hard to find” is especially true for IT talent in the federal government. The White House recently announced its Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy, which includes a goal of hiring an additional 3,500 cybersecurity and IT specialists by January 2017.

The use of existing flexibilities in the government’s system of hiring, training and nurturing talent could enable the government to meet that goal and improve performance today.

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But many senior IT and human resources managers do not know how to use the system well enough to make this happen. And further, in some areas, the system is so badly broken it is impossible to make progress without substantive reform. The next president should take a pragmatic path to hire more and better IT talent through existing hiring laws, while also enacting a targeted reform program to deliver even better mission results.

Background

In fiscal 2017, the federal government will spend almost $90 billion to buy, build and maintain a complex IT infrastructure essential to mission support for the largest organization in the free world.

Despite the enormous budget and the obvious importance of IT to federal mission accomplishment, the government still struggles to deliver IT projects on time, on budget and that meet requirements. Only 77 percent of current IT projects are on schedule and only 72 percent are on budget. The Office of Management and Budget reports that more than …

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