Meeting the government’s challenges of the future will require “bringing in leaders to our government who understand technology, increasing the skills of the existing workforce and hiring to build the competencies of a 21st-century agency,” says a report from the Partnership for Public Service.
“Nearly every national priority depends on an accurate, thorough and contemporary understanding of how to use and leverage modern technology,” but the government is hampered by antiquated technology and a lack of understanding among leadership about IT, it says.
The results can be seen for example in the troubled rollout of healthcare.gov and the security breach of OPM personnel and background investigations databases, said the report, done with the nonprofit Tech Talent Project.
It said that better understanding of current and upcoming technology is needed at senior levels including HR offices which “need to understand key technology-related skills and competencies, and how to acquire, retain, train, develop and engage technical talent.”
OPM meanwhile “should develop a portfolio of hiring modernization activities that enable the building of a strong, capable technical workforce. For example, a prior OPM director developed a Hiring Excellence Mythbusters campaign that debunked myths, including a mistaken belief that hiring managers are not allowed to actively recruit for qualified candidates and that subject matter experts are not allowed to help determine the candidate’s subject matter expertise until after an HR specialist has reviewed and potentially cut candidates.”
“The campaign also showed how experts may work with the HR specialist during the minimum qualifications review, so long as the HR specialist has the final authority and responsibility for signing off on the minimum qualifications determination. This is especially helpful when the position is highly technical, according to OPM.”
Key tech-related competencies most in demand, it added, include tech-informed decision making, security, data governance and use, product management, reliability engineering, software development, procurement, change management and knowledge of emerging technologies.