recommended reading

3 Opportunities For Federal IT Teams During the Hiring Freeze

iJeab/Shutterstock.com

ARCHIVES

By Jason Parry March 6, 2017

recent posts

Jason Parry is a vice president of client solutions at Force 3.

With a federal hiring freeze ordered across the board for federal agencies, government organizations find themselves rethinking operations—including IT. 

It’s a tough reality for federal IT teams, with civilian agencies seeing the deepest impact. The order heavily affects IT professionals, who already face an array of challenges and limitations between budget constraints, manpower deficiencies and skills shortages. 

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

While the immediate effects on federal IT remain unknown, the freeze could certainly complicate recent efforts to bolster the U.S. government’s cybersecurity posture. Still, if there’s a silver lining, perhaps it’s this: Federal IT decision-makers can use this time as an opportunity to improve their existing processes, become more efficient and potentially improve security.

Conduct a skills audit: Delivering effective results relies heavily on having the right skills in place. It means not being over- or understaffed—a particular challenge during a hiring freeze, especially when projects are regularly added and removed.

Even so, the freeze presents federal IT departments with an opportunity to step back and analyze their existing workforce. It means they can reorganize their working approach by focusing on using their existing skill sets to the best advantage.

To succeed here, IT decision-makers must formulate a realistic view of where skills gaps and overlaps exist. This starts with a skills audit. They need to understand the skills attached to existing roles and compare this to the current workforce.

In turn, federal agencies can use the resulting findings to improve efficiencies and address staffing issues. For example, on projects where there is a duplication of skills, agencies can reassign staff to understaffed projects. 

Be more selective: Federal IT departments are often inundated with projects intended to improve and deliver services. However, the freeze may force IT departments to be more selective and, ultimately, to better prioritize current projects by focusing on those with the greatest potential impact.

While this could delay or impact services, there’s also an opportunity to scrutinize incoming projects more than before. Rather than feeling like every problem must be solved, IT departments will have to be selective and choose the projects with the biggest impact for citizens. Doing this will require executive leadership support but will allow projects with the most importance to remain moving forward and be completed on time.

Embrace automation: A hiring freeze doesn’t necessarily mean a spending freeze. If organizations know what skills they have available and which projects matter most, they can use technology to supplement a lack of human capital.

Imagine an organization with data centers across the country. Traditionally a network or security engineer would be tasked with managing users’ access and permissions levels, monitoring server utilization and manually adjusting network or security policy as necessary.

But automated solutions such as software-defined networking allow organizations to take full control of their networks while handing off repetitive, time-consuming work to computers. Network engineers can write scripts and applications that, once deployed, can automatically adjust permissions or change network policy depending on network behavior. Automation technologies can also enable security policies to dynamically change based on previously set criteria. This allows security professionals to focus more time on new threats instead of threats that have already been identified and remediated. 

Taking these time intensive, often repetitive tasks away from IT staff gives them more time invest in value-added work. They can be more strategic and forward-thinking, allowing them to develop proactive solutions that enhance organizational operations as a whole.

The federal hiring freeze is real and has immediate effects for federal agencies. While the challenges are substantial, there are opportunities at hand. While they may not offer a quick fix, they can provide long-term positive results. But to take full advantage, agencies have to be quick-footed and willing to evolve.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.