Technical data

Big resignation could spur White House tech talent hunt

The Biden administration wants to capitalize on the big resignation to fill thousands of expected government jobs in technology and cybersecurity.

Why is this important: The administration wants to redo the way government websites deliver services and improve the country’s cybersecurity, but it will need skilled workers to get there.

What is happening: Senior officials are streamlining the hiring process for tech jobs and hoping to tempt tech workers with the lure of making a difference in people’s lives through government work.

  • Federal Director of Information Clare Martorana told Axios that recent cybersecurity executive orders and updated government services will create thousands of jobs at a time of fierce competition for workers. equipped with technical skills.
  • But with the pandemic making people reassess their careers, Martorana said she sees an opportunity for the government to capitalize on workers who want to make a change.

What they say : To emphasize the benefits of government service, Martorana recalled a technologist working for Veterans Affairs who was overcome with emotion after completing a project.

  • “She said, ‘I just spent three years optimizing a shopping cart. And today what I coded really helped someone,'” Martorana told Axios. “She was a mess, in the best way. Because she actually got to see her skills helping a human.”
  • The administration hopes the government’s pandemic initiatives could help entice tech-savvy workers to join.
  • “More people than ever in the past few years have interacted with government services. Did you find this frustrating? Come make it better,” Mina Hsiang, US Digital Service Administrator, told Axios.

Catch up fast: Biden signed an executive order in December calling on agencies to improve how they provide services to consumers, such as allowing Americans to renew their passports online or allowing retirees to claim benefits online.

  • The administration is hiring customer experience strategists, with the aim of making online services more user-friendly.
  • People “can order a pair of shoes while walking down the street and have them delivered the next day. They expect the same government service they seek,” GSA administrator Robin Carnahan told Axios.
  • The Department of Homeland Security launched a recruitment effort for cybersecurity professionals in November as the government and private sector struggle to fill vacancies.
  • The Biden administration also launched a new program called US Digital Corps earlier this year, intended to bring software engineers, data scientists and others to federal agencies for two-year fellowships.

Details: To be more competitive with the private sector, officials are trying to speed up the hiring process. Officials began interviewing candidates to create groups of candidate types, such as data scientists, and then sharing those names with individual agencies.

  • This led to the agencies making 97 offers to data scientists, of which 47 accepted. In one case, an agency was able to select a candidate in less than a week.
  • “We can’t expect to be competitive if it takes us six months to hire someone in the context of an environment where people are easily hired locally or in two weeks,” Hsiang said.

Rollback: There was a rush to recruit tech-savvy professionals into government service under the Obama administration following the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

  • Hsiang worked on the site’s rescue team and now leads the USDS, which deploys teams to help with technical work across government as well as the implementation of new programs.

Between the lines: USDS is also growing — with 215 people, it’s bigger than it’s ever been and is currently onboarding 30 more people, said Jordan Ginn, director of talent acquisition for USDS.

  • “Getting people to try it can be difficult because it’s a bit of a leap,” Hsiang said. “But once you’re here, you see the impact you can have from the guy you’ve been trying to find, and people are really excited about it.”