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Tech Industry

Commentary: A step forward

Approval of the Digital Tech Corps Act shows the U.S. government is getting serious about enhancing its IT practices, a Gartner analyst says.

By Diane Tunick Morello, Gartner Analyst

The House Government Reform Committee's approval of the Digital Tech Corps Act indicates that the U.S. government is getting serious about enhancing its IT practices.

The proposed program, which the full House

See news story:
Bill proposes IT worker swap
of Representatives will vote on next month, would enable federal agencies and private businesses to exchange midlevel IT managers for one-year assignments, with an optional one-year extension. Gartner believes that such a program would benefit the government, private companies, and the IT managers who take part.

The bill may also help offset concerns that the government is losing senior managers to the private sector or that it may restrict foreign nationals from working in unclassified but sensitive positions.

The program will present some challenges:

• The government will have to manage work and assignments to free up IT managers to accept the opportunity. The exchange will also require the identification of people who can take over the load of the loaned-out manager.

• Both sides will need to develop an exchange mechanism that will match qualified federal candidates with qualified private companies.

• Exchanges must be engineered with an eye toward ethical as well as technical issues. For example, will federal employees be loaned to companies that might eventually bid on government work?

• Heightened national security awareness will put pressure on security clearances and will likely complicate the question of who will qualify for the exchange program.

None of those issues should prevent federal agencies and private businesses from benefiting from the exchange.

Gartner recommends that U.S. civilian and military agencies start identifying midlevel IT managers, directors and leaders who are qualified and ready to take on private-sector assignments. While the program takes shape, federal IT and human resource managers should develop programs to fill the jobs of people who are loaned out.

Meanwhile, private-sector businesses, especially those with no ties to government contracting, should consider whether and how they can take advantage of the exchange program.

(For related commentary on the government IT worker shortage, see

Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.