Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Does government have people with the technology skills?

As we explore the e-government world it become interesting to think about our own workspace and how we integrate and develop new technologies.  For the most part, my involvement is using e-mail, processing my time, submitting expense reports and using the windows based programs to collect and analyze data. 

An interesting article in the Government Technology website talks about all those technology positions within government that need to be filled with the same smart people that are working in the private industry.  I think it is fair to say that the expertise level in the private sector is much higher than we have in government.  We only need to look at to see an example.  It took months too develop, test and deploy the new website for and only days to find out that it was inadequate to support its intended purpose.
So, what did the government do?  We went to private industry and in just a matter of six weeks, the system was evaluated, updated, probably tested and re-launched.  I'm not saying that it works perfectly because I was not affected and did not have to search for health care but according to the President, the system is working and operating as intended.  People are able to sign-up, research and get the answers to the questions they have. 

The problem is to figure out how the government (Federal in this case) can attract and retain the talent needed to keep them moving forward in this age of technology.  How can government compete with the salary and perks provided by the private industry.   I personally do not have any suggestion but I know the government has used a number of different programs to attract other critical skills. This includes doctors and foreign language specialist.  Does it make sense to adopt the types and styles of the top high tech companies like Google and Facebook?  I wonder if we can get government to shed its very formal and structured lifestyle in order to attract the young bright minds needed to think and act in a technical world. 

We could always contract out these services and focus on the maintenance side of the process but how much will that cost?  Will the public be willing to accept this cost knowing that the end result will probably be better than having to have them come in after the fact and fix what government tried to build on their own?

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