What’s New This Quarter
Concern about an aging federal workforce may have alleviated a bit in October, when data released by the Office of Personnel Management showed that 16 percent of government workers are indeed “Millennial” (born after 1980), and those 336,000 employees have an interest in IT. In fact, IT management is one of the top 10 occupations for Millennials in government, with 7,657 of them holding IT management jobs.
What will these IT-centric Millennials work on over the next several years? We got some clues in November, when details of the classified statement of work from the Defense Intelligence Agency on its planned Data Science, Operations, Requirements, and Exploitation (DORE) began to leak out. DORE is the follow-up to the current Science, Technology, Acquisition, Requirements, Testing, and Exploitation (Start-X), a $500 million contract vehicle for experts in data science, sensor technology, technical intelligence disciplines, programming, and more for the DIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. DORE will have a $350 million ceiling over five years. The leaked details suggested that the DIA needs experts in Hadoop, cloud technology, machine learning, ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes and applications, and data visualization. Also of interest: the Internet of things, social media, and open-source support. Contract awards will be made in April.
December’s compromise budget bill included provisions that would speed up the Department of Homeland Security’s hiring of cybersecurity professionals and allow DHS to pay them more. The bill would help DHS hire cybersecurity experts equal to those at the Defense Department and the National Security Agency. Like many federal agencies, DHS has trouble competing for IT talent not only with the private sector, but also with other federal agencies.
In the District of Columbia and surrounding areas, the private sector has been struggling a bit. In October, Sprint cut 235 employees from its IT, portfolio management, and network operations in Reston and Herndon, Virginia. (Those cuts came about a week after Sprint dismissed 452 employees from its Overland Park, Kansas headquarters.) Around the same time, D.C.-based coupon site LivingSocial announced a plan to reduce its workforce by about 20 percent in what CEO Gautam Thakar called a “refounding” of the company. Those layoffs will impact 100 of LivingSocial’s 500 local employees.
Despite those cuts, some experts remain optimistic about the area’s job prospects. “The Washington, D.C. area continues to offer many opportunities for talented IT professionals,” said Chris Brinkman, Washington, D.C. regional vice president of IT recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. “Advertising and marketing firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations are seeking talented developers, as well as network and business intelligence professionals, to take on crucial roles.”
If you want a hint about where to apply for a job, try IT firm OBXtek, located in Tysons Corner, Virginia. According to the Washington Business Journal, it’s the fastest-growing firm in the area, with revenues up an impressive 198.2 percent this year.
Skills in Demand
Despite D.C.’s large government workforce, its current IT needs mirror those of the private sector of most major metro areas. Experts cite a need for Network Engineers, Web Developers (Java, .NET), IT Security, and Help Desk/Desktop Support professionals. Web and Network Security experts, Ruby on Rails experts, and Cloud Engineers are also in demand.
Sixty percent of Washington, D.C., technology executives surveyed by firm Robert Half Technology said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. Windows administration and database management followed, each with 55 percent, and desktop support with 52 percent.
According to the 2014-2013 Dice Salary Survey, the average salary for a Washington-based IT professional is $97,588, unchanged from the previous year and a healthy 11 percent above the national average of $87,811.
- Defense Contracting
- Outsourced Government Services
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