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Why is DC's STEM Scene Lacking?

By Hallie Golden // January 22, 2015

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At the end of 2012, President Barack Obama pledged to increase the number of science, technology, engineering and math jobs by 1 million over the subsequent decade.

The Commerce Department has estimated STEM jobs will increase 1.7 times quicker than other jobs between 2008 and 2018.

But it turns out, the president’s own backyard might not be the most hospitable locale for STEM employees.

Washington, D.C., barely cracked into the top 25 best metro areas for STEM professionals, according to a new study from WalletHub. 

The low placement had nothing to do with the number of people in the city who are working in a STEM job. In fact, Washington is excelling in this category.

D.C. has the second-highest percentage of its workers in STEM jobs, ahead of even Microsoft and Amazon’s own hometown, Seattle. Its total percentage of STEM workers is five times higher than those cities ranked in the bottom five.

But the trend may not not last if the pipeline of jobs and education dries up. D.C. failed to make the top five in “STEM employment growth” or “STEM high schools index.”

Washington is also failing heartily when it comes to ...

GSA in the Dark about How Many Virtual Workers It Has

By Jack Moore // January 21, 2015

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The General Services Administration doesn’t know how many of its employees telework full time.

A new report from GSA’s inspector general found that despite keeping a purported master list of so-called virtual workers, GSA doesn't actually know the number of employees who telework on a full-time basis.

That’s because GSA’s master list doesn't differentiate between so-called virtual workers and satellite employees -- those employees who work on assignment at other GSA offices away from their home office.

There’s also some uncertainty about the reliability of the data that make up the list itself, auditors said.

A list of potential virtual workers provided to the IG during the audit, which took place between April 2013 and January 2014, contained the names of 454 employees. But that included both virtual and satellite employees.

It’s unclear if GSA knows today how many total virtual employees are on the rolls.

GSA’s chief human capital officer, Antonia Harris, told auditors the agency has taken steps to improve record-keeping of virtual workers. A GSA spokeswoman reiterated those reforms in an email to Nextgov and said a wholesale update to the agency’s mobility and telework policy would come ...

Is the Digital Wave Creating a ‘Never-Ending Work Day’ for Feds?

By Jack Moore // January 20, 2015

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Many federal leaders are enthusiastic about the power of digital technology to improve the way government workers get their work done.

But almost as many federal managers worry the rise of new technology has actually upended a healthy sense of work-life balance and could lead to “never-ending work days” that drain federal employees’ morale.

That rift is revealed in a new survey examining agency leaders’ views about technology in the federal workplace conducted by the National Academy of Public Administration and ICF International.

"There's a dichotomy -- an almost even split -- between those in the survey who really thought that digital technology benefited them ... and those who saw that technology actually became more of a tether,” said Dan Chenok, executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Chenok, who was a member of the five-person panel that drafted the survey and analyzed the results, spoke last week at an event unveiling the survey results.

By overwhelming margins -- nine out of 10 -- federal leaders surveyed say they’ve embraced digital technology in the workplace, in part, because of the promise of enhanced productivity.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported using an agency-issued smartphone to get their work done. Nearly ...

How a New Social Network Could Help Close the Cyber Worker Shortage

By Jack Moore // January 5, 2015

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It’s no secret the federal government and scores of private companies have struggled to attract qualified cybersecurity professionals.

But the backers of a new project to create a full-scale social networking site to vet current and would-be cyber warriors say the bustling online community they envision may be the answer.

When a beta version of the site goes live this spring, organizers aim to have 10,000 registered users participating on the CyberCompEx site, which is a partnership of the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a nonprofit devoted to training the country’s cyber workforce, and jobs-site giant Monster.com.

Currently, there are about 1,000 members as part of a 1.0 version of the site, which has received seed funding from the Department of Homeland Security’s research and development division.

Under the partnership with Monster, the site will be revamped, "to take it to the next level, so that people can stay actively engaged and they can develop their own communities," said Karen Evans, the head of U.S. Cyber Challenge.

Site creators have bigger ambitions than just designing another resume site.

On the new site, users will be able to find more information about hands-on competitions ...

Engineers and Computer Scientists Don’t Really Like Working From Home

By Max Nisen // Quartz // January 2, 2015

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It seems intuitive that engineers and computer scientists would prefer working from home, since tasks like writing complex computer code require intense, solitary focus. But a debate started on Y Combinator’s Hacker News, the popular forum for tech types, has raised the question of whether, despite the interruptions and agitations of office life, people who do collaborative work are better off working from one place.

The debate was sparked by Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of remote worker haven Automattic, who was responding to a post from British venture capitalist and programmer Paul Graham on US immigration policy. Graham had argued on his website that limits on US visas for foreign workers hold companies back. Mullenweg took to his own blog to retort that many tech companies are avoiding an obvious solution to the problem, and throwing away some of the best talent, by refusing to hire employees who can work remotely.

In arguing his case, Mullenweg explained that remote workers offer talent on the cheap; living outside the Bay Area lowers their cost of living, while advances in communication technology—tools like Slack, Skype, and Google hangouts—make remote collaboration more effective.

Followers of the forum who opposed Mullenweg ...