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DHS Telework System Lacks a Disaster Plan, IG Says

By Brittany Ballenstedt // April 3, 2014

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The Homeland Security Department’s system to enable telework needs new capabilities to ensure employees can access systems and data during an emergency situation, according to a new report by the department’s inspector general.

DHS, which is implementing its Workplace as a Service, or WPaaS, program to enhance telework as part of an overall effort to move to cloud-based services, has not included an alternate processing site that could continue functioning and providing data during an emergency situation.

The WPaaS effort is designed to provide a virtualized desktop on a remote servers located at one of DHS’ two data centers to support efforts like telework and continuity of operations planning.

Yet while the contractors in charge of WPaaS were supposed to implement the system at both of those data centers, the different versions of WPaaS at those sites did not provide alternate processing capabilities for each other. If there were an outage at one of those centers, WPaaS users of that site would have to wait for that specific center to be restored before they could once again access their systems, the IG found.

The IG recommended the department identify an alternate processing site for WPaaS and revise contingency ...

Is it Finally Time to Overhaul the Federal Personnel System?

By Brittany Ballenstedt // April 2, 2014

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Would the federal government be better off with a more flexible, market-driven pay system that allows it to more effectively compete with other sectors for highly-skilled talent in science, technology, engineering and math fields?

Yes, says a new report by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton, which called for a complete overhaul of the entire civil service system, including pay, performance management, hiring and job classification.

The report outlines how the nature of work performed by federal employees has evolved over time, as professional and administrative occupations have risen while clerical jobs have fallen over the past 15 years. Of the top 10 groups of professional occupations, IT workers make up 6.7 percent, or 80,101 jobs, while engineering makes up 8.4 percent, or 100,792 federal jobs, according to the report.

Yet while the nature of federal work has changed dramatically, the personnel system for managing workers has not. The system, designed more than 60 years ago for a mostly clerical workforce, does not recognize the range of specialized skills required for federal jobs today.

“Our nation’s civil service system is a relic of a bygone era,” said Max Stier, president and ...

What a 3.3 Percent Pay Hike Could Mean for IT

By Brittany Ballenstedt // March 28, 2014

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A group of House Democrats on Wednesday proposed legislation that would authorize a 3.3 percent across-the-board pay increase for federal workers in 2015.

For federal IT workers in particular, the proposed pay hike – which is more than three times the amount proposed by President Obama in his fiscal 2015 budget – would help recoup the losses resulting from three consecutive years of frozen pay, as well as unpaid furloughs and higher retirement contributions for newer workers.

The 3.3 percent increase also could put federal IT salaries in a better standing when competing with the private sector for key talent. Dice.com’s recent Salary Survey of more than 17,000 technology professionals found that average U.S. tech salaries rose 2.6 percent to $87,811 in 2013. Tech salaries in the Washington, D.C. region, however, actually dropped slightly (-0.3 percent) last year, although average salaries in the region still remained the second highest in the nation at $97,588.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., sponsor of the bill – the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates, or FAIR, Act – said the proposed 3.3 percent pay increase would help address the alarming rate of attrition among federal employees. Partnership ...

IT Grads Rank 14 Agencies as Top Employers

By Brittany Ballenstedt // March 26, 2014

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Who says young computer science graduates do not want to work for federal agencies? A new report lists the top 100 ideal employers among undergraduate computer science students, and 14 federal agencies made the list.

The latest survey of more than 46,000 undergraduate students by branding consultancy Universum found that the usual tech industry leaders – Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook – were the top most ideal employers listed by respondents.

And while federal agencies were not among the top 10 picks, the good news is that many cracked the top 25, with even more making the top 100 ideal employers ranked by computer science grads. Among the top agency picks were NASA (11), National Security Agency (13), FBI (14), CIA (15), Defense Department (22), U.S. Air Force (25) and State Department (29).

Rounding out the list was the Energy Department (37), U.S. Navy (41), Centers for Disease Control (43), Environmental Protection Agency (45), Veterans Affairs Department (50), U.S. Army (56), Treasury Department (75) and the National Institutes of Health (78). Several government contractors also made the list.

Federal agencies also were listed as ideal employers in all other job field categories surveyed, including business, engineering and ...

Security-Cleared IT, Cyber Pros See Fatter Paychecks in 2013

By Brittany Ballenstedt // March 25, 2014

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Despite a declining job market and salaries for security-cleared professionals overall in the past two years – in large part due to budget cuts, furloughs and sequestration – there’s two fields that were immune to those declines and hardships: IT and cybersecurity.

A survey of nearly 21,000 security-cleared professionals by ClearanceJobs.com found that not only did the number of security-cleared professionals working in technology and cybersecurity rise in 2013 over the previous year (24 percent vs. 22 percent), average total salaries also rose 1 percent to $102,164.

Security-cleared cybersecurity professionals working in the Washington region in particular saw the largest salary increase among their peers, up 6 percent to $117,184.

IT program and project managers saw the highest jump in pay and the highest salaries of all security-cleared professionals in 2013, earning on average $125,864, an increase of 10 percent over 2012 levels.

The substantial increases in jobs and pay for cleared IT and cyber professionals in 2013 comes as cleared professionals overall saw the second year of decline in compensation, due in large part to budget cuts, furloughs and sequestration. Security-cleared pros overall earned average pay totaling $88,423, down slightly from $88,447 in ...