GAO: 18 big agencies continue to ignore key IT workforce planning actions

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The Government Accountability Office has a simple message for the 24 CFO Act agencies about hiring and retaining IT workers: The instructions are already out there.

The GAO recommended this week that agencies take another look at the eight information technology workforce planning activities it previously suggested in 2016 and 2018. While 23 of the agencies have at least partially developed staffing requirements, regularly assessed staffing needs and identified skills gaps, five other practices continue to go largely unaddressed, according to the report.

Those activities include creating and maintaining a workforce planning process, strategizing to address skills gaps, closing those gaps, monitoring the progress, and reporting that progress to agency leadership.

“Agencies’ limited implementation of the IT workforce planning activities has been due, in part, to not making IT workforce planning a priority, despite the laws and guidance which have called for them to do so for over 20 years,” reads GAO’s report. “Until this occurs, agencies will likely not have the staff with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to support the agency’s mission and goals.”

The government spends about $90 billion on IT annually, but projects “too frequently” fail, exceed costs, miss deadlines, or make little mission impact because of workforce issues, GAO adds.

Eighteen agencies were advised to implement all eight of GAO’s recommended activities: the departments of Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Justice, Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency and National Science Foundation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration are furthest along having substantially implemented three activities.

Agencies typically cited competing priorities and limited resources as their reasons for being slow to address workforce issues.

The only agency to disagree with GAO’s finding that it hadn’t developed an IT workforce planning process was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. GAO reviewed and agreed that NRC does, in fact, outline the role of its chief information officer in addressing workforce issues.

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Government Accountability Office (GAO), reskilling, skills, workforce
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