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House passes IT worker exchange bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approves the Digital Tech Corps Act, which is designed to help the government stave off a shortage of high-tech employees.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that enables a worker exchange program between the government and the high-tech industry.

The Digital Tech Corps Act is designed to help the government stave off a shortage of high-tech employees. It would allow certain government employees to work on temporary assignments at private companies while permitting private-sector employees to take short-term assignments with the government. The swaps would generally run between six months and two years.

"Through partnership, the public and private sectors can do a better job of tackling government's IT skills shortage than the government can do alone," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said in a release. "The Tech Corps is also an innovative and inexpensive solution to one of the federal government's most pressing problems--the shortage of trained IT workers."

Davis said several private-sector companies, including consulting company Accenture, have agreed to commit employees to the program if the law is enacted.

The bill, which had been delayed a few times, passed by a voice vote with two amendments. The amendments require that 20 percent of government workers heading to temporary industry jobs be placed with small businesses, that the Office of Personnel Management update the Congress on current training programs, and that companies be prohibited from adding the costs of the Tech Corps program to current government contracts.

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate in February by Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. That bill is still under review by the Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee.