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United States

Comparatively, a recent report from U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel indicates that total federal IT budgets will shrink in fiscal year 2013 0.7 percent, from just over $79 billion in fiscal year 2012 to $78 billion in 20132. The reason why spending projections can vary from source to source is because budget estimates are made based on different criteria and inclusive of varying government agencies.

Based on VanRoekel’s report, some of the more notable federal agencies will see minute decreases in their 2013 budgets while others will experience slight increases.

Agency

2012 IT Budget (billion)

2013 IT Budget* (billion)

Year-over-Year change

Dept of Treasury (Treasury)

3.21

3.57

11.1%

Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA)

3.11

3.32

6.9%

Dept of Agriculture (USDa)

2.49

2.57

3.2%

Dept of Health & Human Services

6.96

7.13

2.6%

NASA

1.46

1.46

0.0%

Dept of Homeland Security (DhS)

5.58

5.79

-0.6%

Dept of Defense (DoD)

38.22

37.17

-2.7%

Dept of Justice (DoJ)

2.75

2.65

-3.7%

Dept of State (DoS)

1.41

1.34

-4.8%

Dept of Energy (DoE)

2.13

2.03

-4.9%

*Projected

 

Based on TEKsystems’ research, there is not one IT initiative that stands out as government IT leaders’ top priority. More than 50 percent of IT leaders are currently implementing or planning to implement major IT projects like business intelligence (62 percent), virtual desktops (58 percent), master data management (57 percent), cloud computing (57 percent), data center consolidation (57 percent), Software as a Service (SaaS) (57 percent), ERP optimization (55 percent), regulatory compliance (54 percent), mobility (53 percent) and security (52 percent) in the next 12 months3.

These survey findings reflect key elements of the U.S. CIO’s 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management. For example:

  • The DoD is expected to save up to $300 million in 2013 from the closure of 100 data centers2;
  • The DhS is investing $202 million into security initiatives that support continuous monitoring2;
  • The DoD and VA are working together to enhance the eBenefits Portal for service members, veterans and their dependents2; and
  • The DoE plans to move to a cloud based email and calendar application for over 5,000 users that will save up to $2 million over the next 5 years2.

The government is currently taking on numerous IT initiatives that are massive, time-consuming projects with aggressive deadlines. Having the right IT resources in place is critical, says TEKsystems Government Services Vice President Tom Smerczynski. A key success factor for major IT projects is effective workforce planning and program management. Agencies that have great program managers and carefully-designed IT talent strategies will be positioned to ensure their projects finish on time, within budget and meet the original expectations.

IT Hiring Expectations

The federal government is placing heavy focus on IT program management and the ways agencies source, screen and hire these IT program managers. The government is creating new standards for the IT program manager career track to help recruit these resources that are capable of stewarding IT programs from beginning to end. Further, the presidential Technology Fellows program is focused on partnering with universities with renowned technology programs to provide IT professionals with access to career tracks unique to federal agencies, including training in large-scale IT program management.

While the government prepares to get the Technology Fellows program and IT program Manager initiative into full swing, government IT leaders show mixed expectations for hiring in 2012. While nearly 40 percent anticipate their temporary (38 percent) and permanent (39 percent) IT hiring will increase in 2012, approximately half expect their temporary (51 percent) and permanent (48 percent) IT headcount to stay the same. A potential reason for the mixed responses to hiring could be that 2012 is an election year. Who wins the presidency could impact budgets and which projects are given the go-ahead. Agencies may only be hiring resources critical to the IT initiatives they currently have underway.

The amount government IT leaders anticipate their teams to grow in 2012 is relatively small with approximately one quarter expecting their permanent (24 percent) and temporary (25 percent) IT staffs to increase 1 to 5 percent and less than 15 percent foreseeing increases of 6 percent or more1. Depending on the size of the IT teams, 5 percent could represent just one or two new hires3.

Due to the scale of the IT projects the federal government wants to undertake in the future, they are putting the most focus on preparing and screening. Each IT program will likely have aggressive deadlines and huge impacts, comments Smerczynski. Agencies will not be able to afford setbacks as a result of bad hires. Identifying skill gaps early and ensuring a thorough screening process is in place will enable the government to obtain the most qualified IT professionals for the jobs at hand.

Supply and Demand for IT Professionals 

All signs point to current demand for IT professionals in the federal government being relatively low with the exception of a couple of skills like IT Specialists with cyber security and applications development expertise and IT Program Managers. The focal point for Steven VanRoekel is on building a sustainable resource pool of qualified IT professionals so the government can be prepared for the future. The Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC), with the support of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), launched the presidential Technology Fellows program to support the government’s effort to build that pool of emerging talent for federal IT departments.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, total federal, state and local government employment is approximately 22 million. U.S. government IT employment is estimated to be 260,000, which accounts for about 1 percent of the total U.S. government workforce and approximately 6 percent of the entire IT workforce in the U.S. which is slight more than 4 million IT professionals4.

The BLS projects U.S. government IT employment to remain flat through 2020, estimating a growth of 1 percent4.

TEKsystems research corroborates the careful hiring approach the government is taking. The number of job requisitions for IT professionals with government experience increased only 5.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, which is the lowest of all other industries monitored.

With demand being relatively low, it is even more important for federal agencies and government contractors to hire the best IT talent. Generally speaking, IT professionals are looking for professional development and career advancement opportunities so it is crucial to show career tracks and set clear expectations up front, states Smerczynski. It’s also necessary to differentiate your agency or firm. One way to do this is to tout the type of work candidates could be doing. IT professionals want to be part of something big and meaningful so sharing the mission driving IT needs helps to attract the best talent to you.

Hot IT Skills

With major initiatives like business intelligence, data center consolidation and cloud computing impacting most government agencies, experienced IT professionals that understand the technical requirements and the business impacts of these projects are difficult to find. In addition to IT Program Managers, over the past two years, IT leaders consistently identified Enterprise Architects, Cloud Architects and Security and BI Specialists as four of the most difficult to fill positions. New roles identified as difficult to fill in 2012 include Data/Master Data Management architects and Mobile application Developers5.

While demand may currently be low, the demand for IT professionals with unique skills will always be highly competitive. Because these professionals possess the technical expertise as well as a strong understanding of government operations and policies, agencies and contractors know the value they bring, says Smerczynski. The supply of these individuals certainly does not meet the demand so making your jobs as compelling as possible is key to attracting them. Working with service providers with deep resource pools could also provide you the access you need.

Compensation 

The most difficult to fill government IT positions like Cloud Architects, Enterprise Architects and Data/Master Data Management Architects are significantly more likely to see wage increases of more than 10 percent. According to IT decision makers, Security Specialists, Mobile application Developers and BI Specialists are most likely to receive salary increases of 1 to 5 percent. Each of these roles is also the most likely to receive increases of 6 to 10 percent5.

All current IT initiatives are under great scrutiny and budget constraints amid the tough economic conditions. For these IT professionals to be receiving salary bumps of more than 10 percent shows just how valuable they are to the government’s operations and strategy, states Smerczynski. Agencies need to do what is necessary to attract and retain these highly sought after resources. While data points specifically to monetary increases, coupling the financial compensation with other positives like the type of work, impact of the work and work/life balance puts you in a better position to attract and retain resources vital to success.

Footnotes

1 Gartner Forecast: Enterprise IT Spending by Vertical Industry Market, Worldwide, 2010-2016, March 2012

2 Federal Information Technology FY 2013 Budget priorities, Steven VanRoekel, February 2012

3 TEKsystems IT Executive outlook Survey, March 2012

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2012

5 TEKsystems IT Executive outlook Survey, December 2011

About TEKsystems

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. at TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across north america, Europe and asia. our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals – while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.