The government “simply does not have enough staff or leader¬ship with the modern technical expertise needed to fix critical services and build for the future,” the Partnership for Public Service has said, and addressing that problem will require both hiring the right people and developing those already onboard.
A report uses the examples of entities including the U.S. Digital Service, GSA’s 18F innovation lab and the Presidential Innovation Fellows programs in hiring software engineers, designers, product man¬agers, innovation experts, entrepreneurs and others with modern technical expertise.
It says that the government’s hiring process “is often slow and painful for applicants, and jarringly different from the private sector,” which “puts the government at an immediate disadvantage.” It recommended that digital services teams manage the recruiting and hiring process and coordinate when needed with HR on issues such as veterans preference, rather than relying on HR to manage the whole process. Such teams “are intimately familiar with effective industry practices, prioritize active recruiting, provide an excellent candidate experience and lead a rigorous selection process based on technical evaluation by subject matter experts.”
Regarding the need for training, the report cited OPM data showing that as of 2017, below 3 percent of full-time IT professionals were under age 30, while 51 percent were 50 years or older. “Unless the government has provided significant training in modern tech, which evidence does not support, this suggests that the training and skills of the federal IT workforce are several generations out of date,” it said.
“The government must build out the most important skills and competencies of the existing IT workforce, invest in training that works and create a culture of continuous learning,” it said.