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How information technology is changing the landscape for federal employees.

Part Feds, Part Contractors


The Homeland Security Department is beginning to see some savings as a result of an initiative that aims to strike a balance between federal employees and contractors within its workforce, including some workers in IT.

Debra Tomcheck, executive director of the Balanced Workforce Program Management Office at DHS, told a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Thursday that its Balanced Workforce Strategy had resulted in an estimated $2.3 million in savings as of January 2012.

To date, 44 positions have been brought in-house via the strategy and an additional 241 positions have been identified for insourcing in the remainder of fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013, Tomcheck said.

It's unclear exactly what types of jobs are being insourced or cut as part of the program, but DHS spokesman Larry Orluskie said last year that several of the jobs were IT-related. Other jobs were in the information and analysis fields.

Former DHS Chief Human Capital Officer Jeffrey Neal set up the balanced workforce program office last year to steer the initiative and create a repeatable process for reviewing outsourced work.

Tomcheck said part of the strategy included developing an electronic tool that asks respondents a series of questions and produces a suggested ratio of federal workers to contract workers. The tool then stores the information in a central database for future analysis, she said.

"If the determination is made to rebalance the workforce by adding federal employees to attain better control of the mission, a contract must be permitted to expire or the work must be de-scoped while the federal workforce is hired," she said.

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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