Bill calls for tech worker exchange program

Rep. Tom Davis, R.-Va., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, introduced a bill Tuesday to create a workplace exchange program between federal information technology employees and high-tech workers in the private sector. Davis said he wants to make a "down payment on the human capital crisis" that looms over a federal workforce rapidly approaching retirement. Under the "Digital Tech Corps Act of 2001," any federal employee at grade level GS-12 and above could, upon authorization from an agency head, leave the government for up to two years to work with a private company. In return, private IT employees would be loaned to the government for similar periods, then go back to their respective corporations. Davis characterized the bill as a "cross-pollination" of industry and government, whereby each sector would benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the other and then take their experiences back to their respective organizations. "I believe that we can help government transform itself by creating a new vision of public service for this century," he said. Agencies could begin their exchange programs upon completion of an agreement with a private entity, Davis said. In all cases, employees would continue to receive their same pay and benefits from either their public or private employer. Davis' bill won immediate support from Steven Kelman, the former administrator of the Office of Procurement Policy during the Clinton administration and now a professor of public management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "I am a frontline solider in the government's war for talent," Kelman said. As a teacher of young people, Kelman said he knows that many of today's youth expect to change jobs several times in their careers and that they are more inclined to take time out for public service than any other generation before them. The government offers young people very little opportunity for short-term employment, he said, adding that he hopes Davis' bill will be "the first step toward a cultural change" in the federal government. The bill also piqued the interest of David Walker, head of the General Accounting Office; Kay Coles James, the new director of the Office of Personnel Management; and Stephen Perry, administrator of the General Services Administration, all of whom testified before Davis' subcommittee about the steps their agencies are taking retain and recruit employees. James, who has been on the job at OPM for only two weeks, told Davis that her agency's creation of special pay rates for IT workers in all agencies is a prime example of the kinds of administrative actions OPM has taken to prepare for the coming worker shortage. Perry told Davis that of GSA's more than 14,000 employees, 8 percent are classified as IT workers, making it one of the single largest worker pools in the agency. That population has been reduced over the past five years by 14 percent due to retirements, Perry said. Perry said GSA is trying to improve the quality of worklife for its employees to compensate for the lower pay they receive. This includes finding meaningful projects for employees to work on, as well as investing more of the agency's budget in cash awards and employee recognition. GSA also takes advantage of OPM's special salary provisions for IT workers, he said.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.