GAO: Cultivating a Data-Centric Culture Can Help Recruit, Retain a Digitally-Savvy Workforce

insta_photos/istockphoto

A survey chronicles the steps federal agencies need to take to improve their workforce to be equipped for technological modernization.

The growth and development of tech talent within the public sector is stagnating, requiring advanced training and support for government employees to stay competitive in an increasingly digital environment, according to a new study.

Released on Nov. 19 by the Government Accountability Office, a survey featuring leaders from tech sectors within government, academic, and nonprofit organizations suggests that government modernization efforts are primarily hindered by a lack of talent with expertise in burgeoning fields like artificial intelligence, robotic automation, and cybersecurity.

GAO officials identified that federal agencies in particular have faced challenges in hiring and retaining digitally savvy staff due to a limited pipeline of qualified candidates and a slower hiring process. 

The report was commissioned by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Personnel within the Committee on Armed Services.

“The U.S. government has a need for digital expertise, and federal agencies have faced challenges in hiring, managing, and retaining staff with digital skills,” the report summary said.

From the pool of industry experts sampled as part of the study, report authors were able to distill the feedback into three steps that are critical to modernizing the tech branches of federal agencies. These include providing resources for a digital workforce, fostering an “academy” for a better pipeline of talent, and creating a culture of retention for digitally-savvy new hires. 

The panel of respondents said that some of the procedures a digital workforce could  accomplish include updating outdated legacy systems, updating cybersecurity protocols and managing related risks, and applying new AI technologies to improve existing business processes.

In order to achieve this, however, there has to be a sufficient workforce with the appropriate technical training. 

To hire and retain this talent, the panelists noted that using contractors, training existing civil employees to continue technical work, and implementing a range of fellowships and internships are some of the ways to maintain a workforce for more advanced technical implementation.

The report specifically notes that creating a digital service academy for developing a pipeline of qualified digital service workers would keep the hiring process moving. Some of the recommended skills for these workers include a combination of understanding bureaucratic processes and digital innovation.

Finally, industry leaders recommend that cultivating an agency-wide culture of technological innovation is critical for retaining employees. This includes establishing support networks between agencies and departments, and developing more professional growth opportunities in a data-centric environment. 

“Branding the federal government as an employer that drives change and promotes freedom to think creatively could attract a stronger talent pool,” the report concludes.  

The need to modernize government agency procedures has long been on the federal agenda, but remote work brought by the pandemic emphasized the need for more advanced innovations. 

Taka Ariga, the chief data scientist and director of the GAO’s Innovation Lab, said that training existing staff on technological topics is just as important as hiring new specialists. 

“The concept of a digital service academy can be one potential long-term path,” Ariga told Nextgov. “At the same time, agencies can also develop specific digital curriculums to retool existing staff. GAO’s timely report highlights needs to not only address the talent pipeline challenges but also how the cadre of digital workforce can thrive through strengthening of institutional support mechanisms.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.