Mark Forman Testimony to House Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, 10/04/2001
TESTIMONY OF MARK FORMAN
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY AND PROCUREMENT POLICY
OF THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM
October 4, 2001
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the important issue
of managing the Federal information technology (IT) and acquisition workforces.
Before I get to the substance of my testimony, I need to make sure the
that I do not serve in a confirmed position within the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB). As a general policy, OMB does not usually send officials
in non-confirmed political positions to testify before Congress. However, in
this case, because OMB does not yet have a Deputy Director for Management,
the OMB Director decided it was in the best interest of the Administration to
have me appear on his behalf as a witness for this hearing.
I have more than a passing interest in the issue of an effective
Federal IT workforce. In June, I was appointed as the Associate Director of
the Office of Management and Budget for E-government and information technology.
My position was created to improve agency use of information technology and
e-government practices. A critical element for success in that effort will
be assuring that the Federal government has an effective IT workforce with
the appropriate skills.
While Federal IT is critical to the way the Federal government operates,
it is important to keep in mind that the Federal government is not in the IT
The Federal government is in the business of making policies, managing Federal
programs, and ensuring enforcement of laws and regulations. IT is essential
to government operations. Modern IT offers opportunities to improve policy
making, service delivery, and enforcement of laws and regulations. As such,
it is important to view the Federal IT workforce within the context of Federal
government being the world's largest customer of the IT industry.
The President's management agenda contains five key elements: improving
financial system performance, competitive sourcing, strategic management of
human capital, performance-based
budgeting, and expanding E-government. Each element of the management agenda
is dependent on the others to assure maximum advantage. As such, management
of human capital generally, and of the IT workforce specifically, must be
as a part of this broader management reform framework. Let me briefly describe
the three elements of that agenda that are particularly germane to today's
discussion of the Federal IT and acquisition workforces:
Strategic Management of Human Capital
As part of OMB's efforts to develop the President's FY 2003 budget,
we have asked agencies for their plans on how they are going to strategically
realign their workforce to better accomplish the Federal government's
work. These are not plans for counting the number of individuals, but rather
for a strategic re-thinking of the way agencies operate, and the skills and
expertise they will need to perform effectively and efficiently in the future.
The plans were due to OMB in September as part of the FY 2003 budget submissions
and annual performance plans, and OMB resource management offices have been
these plans with the agencies in the context of FY 2003 budget preparation.
I should note that we are asking specifically about IT workforce plans as part
of the review of agency workforce strategies. The results of this review will
be evident in the President's FY 2003 budget that will be proposed this coming
To help provide flexibility to re-orient the workforce, the
will shortly propose the Freedom to Manage Act, which will give Federal managers
the ability to better manage their organizations. The Administration will
seek enhanced authority to use recruitment and retention bonuses, permit
agencies to easily develop demonstration projects and implement alternative
personnel systems, authorize managers to use workforce restructuring tools
including early retirement packages and buyouts, and recruit and treat senior
executives more comparably with their private sector counterparts. Donald
Winstead from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will be discussing
these proposals further in his statement.
A second facet of the President's management reform is the E-government
initiative, which I lead. It is our vision
that E-government will result in an order of magnitude improvement in the
government's value to the citizen. We define E-government as the use of digital
technologies to transform operations in a manner that drives significant
in efficiencies, effectiveness, and service delivery. To accomplish this vision
we simplify business processes to maximize the benefit of technology, resulting
in processes that will be faster, cheaper, and more efficient. We will also
to replace legacy islands of automation by unifying IT and operations across
silos. While this has rarely been done in Federal government, such business
has become almost routine in industry as well as State, local, and foreign
Catching-up will require new and different skills in our IT professionals. At
the top of my list is the ability to communicate with line program
Other important skills include knowledge of enterprise applications such as
chain management, customer relationship management, and knowledge management.
Like all information intensive industries, government has a shortage of
especially those that design ways that we can best leverage emerging information
platforms for security, web services, and ubiquitous information. Finally, I
believe we need more capability in preparing solid business cases and in
projects to deliver on those business cases.
As I noted earlier, we are the world's largest customer of the IT
industry. Therefore, we need to ensure that we can
obtain the proper skills for our IT support both among Federal employees and
contractors. For that reason we have a specific committee of the CIO Council,
the Workforce Committee, to advise us on IT workforce issues and develop best
practices. As an example of developing the kinds of skills we need in the
workplace, I would like to highlight the Workforce Committee's
work in creating the CIO University curriculum. Both Federal and contractor
employees have taken advantage of that training. I should note that it was also
that committee that proposed and executed the contract with NAPA to perform
study of the Federal IT workforce.
Numerous IT tasks are commercial in nature. Federal workforce studies
indicate that almost 80 per cent of IT jobs are currently performed by Federal
contractors. Through our competitive sourcing initiative, we intend to identify
and select sources -- public or private -- that are best able to perform and
the Government execute its mission most effectively.
Agencies are currently working with the Office of Federal Procurement
Policy to examine, among other things, how they are providing IT services and
will then determine the best source of those services. In many respects,
sourcing will offer an opportunity to use market forces to develop capabilities
needed to meet the Federal government's IT needs.
Your letter of invitation said that you would be assessing the workforce
recommendations of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report
titled "The Transforming Power of Information Technology: Making the Federal
Employer of Choice for IT Employees." Mr. Winstead will be addressing the report
in more detail
in his remarks, but let me provide some background on it.
The report was developed at the request, and with the funding of the
Federal Chief Information Officers' Council, which I now direct. When the study
was initially solicited,
many Federal agencies were having great difficulty recruiting and retaining IT
Federal salaries simply were not competitive, and the dot com boom was in full
swing. Since then,
OPM increased starting salaries for IT professionals through special pay rates.
In addition, the dot
com boom has waned, and commensurate with it the demand for IT professionals has
somewhat. For example, a recent national survey of both government and private
by "CIO Magazine" indicates that only 15 percent of them are having difficulty
filling IT positions
this year, as opposed to 76 percent of them one year ago. That said,
"Computerworld" reported on
Monday this week that "the decline of [dot coms] doesn't signal the end of
highly competitive compensation,
say consultants and CIOs." Therefore it is timely for the Administration to
address the problems that
the NAPA report highlights and give serious consideration to NAPA's
Today's workforce is making old technology work to operate Federal
programs. But we
can do better. Information technology offers the possibility to dramatically
Federal government -- interactions with citizens as well as our internal
operations. To be able to take advantage
of that possibility we will need a skilled, motivated workforce. The
is moving quickly to re-orient the Federal workforce to take advantage of this
opportunity. Today's hearing, and
the NAPA study and its recommendations, are important contributors to our
of a better Federal government.
I would be happy to answer any questions.