Preparing for Change in the Federal Information Technology Workforce

CIO Council


The increasingly senior federal workforce, and their anticipated retirement from federal service, continues to top the list of human capital concerns across government. The Federal Government needs the right mix of high performing information technology (IT) personnel, with the skills necessary to meet both current and future mission requirements. As the Baby Boomers in the federal IT workforce retire, many of their replacements will come from a new, younger generation of workers, the "Net Generation," so-named by Don Tapscott in his 1997 book, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation (and its 2008 sequel, Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World), for being the first generation to have lifelong exposure to the Internet. This large, incoming generational wave is expected to bring a variety of new dynamics to the federal workplace. In order to manage the changing generational mix effectively, managers will need to reconcile the distinct, and sometimes conflicting, expectations, needs, and life experiences of their workforce and to establish a context for success that allows the strengths of each generation to shine.

Capturing the knowledge of the current workforce, and bracing for the institutional changes resulting from both a changing workforce and rapidly evolving technology, will present wide-ranging challenges for Chief Information Officers who must fulfill specific responsibilities under United States Code (USC) 11315(c)(3) (Clinger-Cohen Act); 44 USC 3506(b)(5) (Paperwork Reduction Act); 44 USC 3501, Section 209, IT Workforce Development (E-Government Act); 44 USC 3544(a)(4), Information Security (E-Government Act); and OMB A-130 Circular regarding the assessment, management, and training of the federal IT workforce. Accordingly, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council initiated a review of the baseline federal IT workforce, current IT workforce management practices, and collaborated with nGenera Insight (formerly New Paradigm), an innovator in generational thought research, to use and expand their research on the Net Generation, the workforce of the future. The Office of the Department of Defense Deputy Chief Information Officer has spearheaded this effort for the Council.