Government faces geek shortage

Washington (DC) – Federal agencies are facing a severe shortage of computer specialists according to a private study.

The study, drafted by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton, says that the Federal IT workforce is fragmented with no one in charge of overall planning and government agencies are “on their own and sometimes working at cross purposes or in competition with one another.”

The report said that it is impossible for the US to win any cyber war if it can’t win the war for talent.  If the federal work force is incapable of meeting the cyber challenge, all of the cyber czars and organizational efforts will be useless, it warned.

It also highlights the recruiting and retention of IT workers as a major problem for Federal Agencies. Most of the problem appears to be caused by a cumbersome hiring process, the failure to devise government-wide certification standards, insufficient training and salaries, and a lack of an overall strategy for recruiting and retaining cyber workers, the study said.

It is unclear how many IT people are hired by the government, although the Pentagon says it has more than 90,000 personnel involved with cybersecurity, while the non-defense department civilian cybersecurity work force has been estimated at 35,000 to 45,000.

The review added that a majority of managers are not satisfied with the quality or quantity of job candidates they get, forcing them to rely heavily on contractors.