Federal CIOs predict more contractors in cybersecurity, enterprise architectures

Most federal CIOs "bullish" on contractor-federal employee workforce mix, says Grant Thornton director

Federal CIOs foresee a small net gain in the number of IT contractors for cybersecurity and enterprise architecture, and little or no increase in contractors for program management and transactions, in the coming months through September 2012, according to a new survey.

The 21st Annual Survey of Federal Chief Information Officers was released on May 4 by the TechAmerica  trade organization and Grant Thornton LLP, an accounting firm. The survey was based on interviews with 46 federal CIOs.

The survey featured several issues affecting federal IT contractors, including predictions by the CIOs of how federal contractor worker numbers might change in the remainder of fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012. It also touched on perceptions about the contractor-federal employee balance and a recommendation to get federal contractors more involved in IT reform initiatives.

For workforce issues, the CIOs anticipated some additional contracting in two areas.

In the cybersecurity area, 21 percent of the CIOs foresaw a gain in contractors, while 14 percent foresaw a reduction. For enterprise architecture, 17 percent predicted a gain, while 8 percent predicted a decrease. In both those areas, the net gain was greater than zero.

However, contractor workforce changes for IT program management were flat, with 14 percent seeing an increase and 14 percent seeing a decrease. The same was true for transactions programs, with 9 percent expecting a rise, and 9 percent expecting a drop.

At the same time, the CIOs said federal employee hiring was expected to rise, with 36 percent predicting an increase in staff for IT program management, 33 percent, for enterprise architecture hiring, and 18 percent, for transactions hiring. While 29 percent believe cybersecurity in house hiring will rise, another 7 percent said it would fall.

Overall, federal CIOs are pleased with maintaining a mix of federal employees and contract workers, Norm Lorentz, director, global public sector IT services for Grant Thornton, speaking at a TechAmerica conference on May 4.

“Just about everyone was bullish on the nature of the mixed workforce,” Lorentz said. “Project and program management jobs are moving into government,” he added. “They realize it is inherently governmental work.” IT security and enterprise architecture hiring is rising, too, he added.

For contractors, there likely will be a net gain in contractors performing cybersecurity and enterprise architecture work, the survey added.

Also in the survey, it indicated some of the CIOs also would like to include contractors in the Office of Management and Budget’s information technology reform process, such as having contractors participate in TechStat project review meetings for specific projects, Lorentz said.

The current TechStat seating chart suggested by the OMB includes the CIO, Chief Financial Officer, Deputy Secretary, contracting officer, program manager, project manager and executive sponsor, but no contractors.

“In some programs, we have 99 percent of the work being performed by contractors, and there are no contractors in the room,” Lorentz said. “That makes no sense. It did not make sense to the CIOs either.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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