Looking outside the Beltway for future tech talent

Leidos CEO Roger Krone is looking outside the Washington metro area for engineering and software hires.

NOTE: This article appeared first on FCW.com.

The nation's capital has long been a hub for the defense industry, but the dearth of cyber and IT workers has created an environment that could now be stifling innovation.

Leidos CEO Roger Krone told FCW the industry has created "hyper demand" and an environment where skilled individuals can't be recruited without ever-escalating salaries -- a trend that could be hindering technological advancement in the government IT community.

"For years, I think we had about a third of our work in the National Capital Region," Krone told FCW following an April 2 event the Atlantic Council. "And what you saw was just the various companies [that] had a demand for that talent bidding everybody up. And I think we've all gotten to a point where we've said this may be the definition of insanity."

"It probably limits the level of growth that we can achieve in that narrow space and I think that's probably true writ large," he said. "Because, I think frankly, ramping up and hiring people can be a competitive advantage," even if it's not in the Washington metro area.

Krone said that while Leidos is able to deliver work with available talent -- and clearance backlog -- in the Washington area, the firm is also focusing on growing supply nationwide so it can preempt workforce problems in the future.

"Working with customers and on our own we have started to develop centers of excellence outside the National Capital Region," he said. "And in discussions with many of our customers, we now are able to move work to where students go to school and want to live."

Leidos, which is headquartered in Reston, Va., has an agile software center of excellence in Morgantown, W.Va., "because the kids that go to the University of West Virginia love living in Morgantown but there were no jobs," Krone said.

"The real secret is to increase supply," he explained, and "having customers who are flexible enough to allow us to move work away from where their agency may be...to where we can actually hire the talent."

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