The problem: Federal agencies are lagging behind in the race for IT talent

Federal agencies are focused on accelerating IT modernization. To do this, however, they need more IT talent, and they need it fast. Federal IT companies, however, are struggling to keep pace due to workforce limitations, lengthy hiring and security clearance processes, and intense competition from the private sector.

From my experience in IT leadership in government, I understand firsthand the arduous process of hiring in the federal government, especially for positions that require security clearances. These processes, while necessary, exacerbate an already serious talent shortage. This reality was a major factor in the federal government’s commitment a few years ago to adopt off-the-shelf business solutions (COTS) and to rely heavily on outsourced resources.

However, we have seen the pendulum drift away from COTS in recent years, as the federal government’s technological requirements have become increasingly complex and unique. As the federal government re-focuses on creating its own solutions, the lack of talent and skills has again become a constraint to faster adoption and innovation.

The bottom line: The government just doesn’t have the expertise it needs at the scale it needs to deliver solutions quickly, and the competition for talent is more intense than ever.

DISCOVER: What are the most sought-after computer skills in the federal government?

Agencies face restrictions when working with systems integrators

To solve their IT resource problems, federal agencies have historically relied on federal systems integrators to provide expertise and execute projects. However, contractual restrictions impose strict constraints that limit ISP resources to specific contract vehicles.

There is little flexibility to realign these resources to meet emerging demands without more rigorous contracts. Additionally, with subsequent projects, federal IT officials are finding that they are often associated with a whole new set of ISP resources, forcing them to repeat the learning curve for each new initiative.

While the FSI model is necessary and adds value for many initiatives, today’s IT managers are also looking for greater flexibility and agility and need the resources to quickly take on new projects and pivot as needed. needs.

RELATED: How can agencies compete with the private sector in IT recruiting?

Subscription engineering is a force multiplier

Today’s rapidly changing demands demand a new approach. Agencies are embracing the subscription model for IT resources, and it’s time to apply that same concept to technical expertise, engineering and development resources in particular.

A new paradigm is emerging based on the concept of an engineering module subscription service, enabling the elastic engineering support that today’s federal IT officials need. Elastic engineering is results-driven to deliver consistent value to projects.

With elastic engineering, federal authorities have access to a team of engineering specialists – or a “pod” – with a wide range of capabilities to deliver a wide range of solutions over the course of the subscription.

The idea is that agencies can engage with these modules for short term support or an extended relationship. IT managers can leverage these resources across one or more projects and realign them as needed to meet changing priorities.

The key to the success of this approach is that the resources must be practical and do the work necessary to help the agencies fulfill their mission. Workers should also have all necessary safety clearances and understand the federal agency model and requirements.

In addition, the module’s resources must remain consistent, allowing the team to develop a solid understanding of the agency, its priorities and its culture. This eliminates the perpetual learning curve and speeds up the time to value. Relationships also develop and can facilitate the transfer of knowledge to members of the federal IT team.

Times and demands have changed, as have the models for recruiting critical talent. A subscription engineering model offers a viable and attractive way forward. Agencies benefit from flexible, results-oriented resources and can adapt to meet changing requirements and advance knowledge transfer to internal teams. This approach will pave the way for faster and more efficient modernization across the federal government, much like cloud computing did over a decade ago, while revolutionizing the way agencies operate. fulfill their missions.


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