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Feds Desperately Seeking IT Help

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A desperate shortage of qualified IT managers may send Mark Forman, chief information officer for the Bush administration, on a hiring binge this summer. Forman told a technology and counterterrorism forum Thursday that several hundred IT projects in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are at risk of having funding withheld unless experienced managers can be found.

Ideally, Forman said he would like to fill the positions and offer training to existing government employees, but a hiring campaign may be necessary “if we literally don’t have the people we need in-house.”

Forman, assistant director of IT and e-government at OMB, has been charged by the White House with overhauling the management of the government’s IT infrastructure. Earlier this month, he was selected to head the new Office of Electronic Government (OEG) within the OMB. The OEG was created by Congress last year as part of an e-government reform act.

The Bush administration is calling for “about $60 billion” in federal IT spending for fiscal 2004, according to Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., the director of OMB. The IT budget represents an approximate 15 percent increase over the $52 billion request for 2003.

Davis said IT spending would be one of the few areas of the federal budget to see any significant increases. Overall, Daniels said, the administration is seeking a “deceleration” in federal spending outside of defense and IT items.

Daniels also said federal IT projects contain “tons of overlap and redundancies” and “far too many plans for which we do not have good business cases.”

He added, “Many plans really are counterproductive in the sense that they built systems that cannot talk to systems we have now.”

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