The fiscal 2014 budget proposal unveiled by the White House on Wednesday identifies a few goals for recruiting, hiring and retaining federal workers, including some that relate specifically to the federal IT workforce.
Those goals include identifying specific skills gaps in mission critical occupations like IT and cybersecurity, modifying the federal personnel system, addressing the pending retirement wave and expanding telework programs, all of which are critical items in maintaining and strengthening the federal IT workforce.
Specifically, the budget seeks to build on efforts made by the Office of Personnel Management and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council in identifying critical skills gaps in areas like IT and cybersecurity. OPM already has designated leaders from agencies whose missions depend on these occupations and meets with these leaders regularly to discuss their progress in recruiting, hiring and retaining in these fields, the budget states.
The budget proposal also commits to enhancing the cybersecurity workforce, building on efforts like the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, which last year developed a common taxonomy for classifying and categorizing federal cybersecurity jobs. And the budget pledges to provide federal cyber professionals with tools, education, training, awareness and other resources in 2014.
The budget also seeks to maximize knowledge transfer and succession planning in 2014, particularly as larger numbers of federal employees transition into retirement. This is especially a challenge for cybersecurity, which is facing a potential personnel shortage in the next three years, according to a report released last week by the Federal CIO Council.
“The age distribution and potential for a large number of retiring workers poses a challenge, but it also creates an opportunity to streamline the workforce and infuse it with new – and in some cases lower-cost – workers excited about government service and equipped with strong technology skills,” the budget states.
The Obama administration also stressed the need for an updated personnel system for federal workers that allows agencies to compete for and reward top talent. The budget proposes establishing a commission on federal public service reform to develop recommendations and reforms to modernize personnel policies surrounding pay, staff development, mobility and performance.
Finally, the budget also commits to building on the Digital Government Strategy by expanding mobility, telework and bring-your-own-device programs for federal employees. While use of telework programs had expanded to 21 percent of the federal workforce in 2011, compared to 10 percent in 2009, “there is still more work to be done in breaking down barriers to the effective use of telework,” the budget states.