The Data Briefing: Finding the New Federal Government Technologists

This week, I want to briefly discuss the human resources challenges in finding the new IT technology workers for the government. As agencies move toward microservices, artificial intelligence chatbots, and deep learning application programming interfaces (APIs), the demand for experts in these fields continues to grow fast. The universities and professional development programs are not churning out the talent fast enough while governments are competing with private industry for what experts are currently available. Clearly, the federal government needs to determine how to meet this challenge. Luckily, state and local governments provide some great examples.

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Tennessee has begun efforts to retrain their current technology workforce. First, Tennessee reclassified the IT job categories and then built a training program around the new IT job categories. Harris County in Texas also did a similar reclassification program to revitalize the county government’s IT workforce. Both California and Colorado are also embarking on large-scale reclassifications. All these reclassifications are mirroring the new private sector job classifications.

Another way local and state governments are bringing in new IT talent is rethinking their recruitment efforts. Instead of relying solely on the job posting method, government hiring officials are directly reaching out to university graduates, identifying candidates at IT conferences, and even recruiting through hackathons. Governments are also offering more flexible work arrangements and job opportunities to keep the recently hired applicants. Also, government offices are providing more developmental opportunities and leadership training to retain government IT workers.

All these efforts are paying off as government IT workers are telling their friends about the great opportunities in government technology. Colorado instituted an employee referral program which has grown 12% in the two years after it was started. Employee referral programs worked well in growing private sector companies in Silicon Valley so, it can be an effective strategy for government agencies.

The digital transformation of the Federal government is built on the new digital technologies which hold great potential for revitalizing government services. However, even more important than the digital technologies are the people who will lead the digital transformation. The state and local governments have much to teach the Federal government in attracting and retaining the next generation government IT workforce.

Each week, The Data Briefing showcases the latest federal data news and trends. Visit this blog every week to learn how data is transforming government and improving government services for the American people. If you have ideas for a topic or have questions about government data, please contact me via email. Dr. William Brantley) is the Training Administrator for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Global Intellectual Property Academy. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USPTO or GSA.

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