Government faces shortage of IT project managers, council reports

Chief Information Officers Council backs increased training in key areas.

A shortage of information technology project managers remains one of the biggest challenges the federal government faces, according to a report released Thursday by the Chief Information Officers Council.

The number of employees who identify themselves as project managers has decreased by 3.4 percent since 2004, according to the council's Information Technology Workforce Capability Assessment report. Despite the drop, the CIO Council reported "no large gaps for personnel performing IT project management functions."

But the council did report that issues involving "significant competencies" in IT project management were of concern.

The council concluded that the government should improve training for employees in cost-benefit analysis, capital planning and investment analysis. The report also noted a lack of competency in project management software, knowledge of federal enterprise architecture and earned value management.

The shortage of skills in these areas at lower levels could present problems for the federal government as project managers retire. About a quarter of employees who said they spent most of their time working as project managers are eligible to retire within the next three years, and about half of those said they would do so. About 19 percent of federal employees who said they spen a moderate amount of time working as project managers are eligible to retire in the next three years, with 12 percent saying they plan to retire during that time period.

The workforce assessment is based on two-year-old data collected from the 2006 federal IT workforce survey. In the survey, more than 30,000 federal IT employees responded to questions about their positions, backgrounds, skills, training and responsibilities. They found that the average federal IT employee was between the ages of 51 and 55, was a GS-12 grade or equivalent, and eligible for retirement in 11 to 20 years.