By: Don Willmott,
What’s New This Quarter
A long and miserable winter in D.C. coupled with the usual governmental tumult has left federal workers in terrible moods. According to a poll conducted by researcher Market Connections and FierceGovIT, 50 percent of government employees said recent policies were a reason to leave government work, while 39 percent said staffing issues have gotten so bad that mission-critical work is not getting done. “This level of frustration is fueled by policies and budget cuts we’ve seen recently, particularly with the government shutdown,” Lisa Dezzutti, Market Connections president, told Washington Technology.
Of course, if no one else wants to do the work, perhaps you can. “The flipside for industry is that this may indeed be an opportunity,” Dezzutti added. Contractors can step in to plug the holes left by understaffed, undersupported feds, and if federal employees do begin leaving, contracting firms will be looking to hire.
But more contractors may be precisely what the government does not need. Writing in The Washington Post, columnist Steven Pearlstein contends that the Edward Snowden leaks and the botched HealthCare.gov rollout are symptoms of a bigger problem that’s been building for decades: The government has outsourced too much of its work and its workforce has fallen behind.
Consider HealthCare.gov. The cost of the cloud that supports back-end data sharing for the Affordable Care Act and state marketplaces grew to $60 million, more than five times its original estimate, by the time the site was declared fully functional. The government’s contract with Terremark, Verizon’s cloud division, had already quadrupled from $11 million when it was first awarded in 2011 to $46 million at the time of launch.
Skills in Demand
Looking forward, D.C. appears to be in most desperate need of qualified cybersecurity specialists. According to Fox News, there are thousands — even hundreds of thousands — of open positions for cyber professionals. Swaths of tech workers are looking to find a way into the lucrative and ostensibly wide-open field, but many of them — limited by a lack of security experience, the wrong educational background, inadequate skill sets or the lack of a security clearance — are being shut out even as staffing shortages mount.
Besides that, “We’ve seen a significant increase in job openings specifically in the networking space,” says Diana Smith, division director of recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. Smith also sees high demand for skills in desktop support (Tier 2), front-end Web development and responsive design.
Sixty percent of the Washington, D.C., technology executives surveyed by Robert Half said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. Windows administration and desktop support followed.
According to the 2013-2014 Dice Salary Survey, the average salary for a Washington-based IT professional is $97,588, barely changed from the previous year and 11 percent above the national average tech salary of $87,811.
- Defense Contracting
- Outsourced Government Services
Local Employment and Research Resources
- Four Lessons in Project Management from Healthcare.gov
- Governments Worry Over Lack of IT Talent
- Tech Pros’ Salaries, Confidence Rise: Dice Report