The word wasn’t common when government workforces shrunk while government contractors grew. The Obama administration is reversing a trend that goes back to President Eisenhower. Now government managers and HR must get more work done by federal employees rather than contractors. Government acquisition has stepped up as the first prime example. In April Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that he would hire “as many as 13,000 new civil servants in 2010 to replace contractors and up to 30,000 new civil servants in place of contractors over the next five years” This task involves shifting thousands of contractor employees to the government payroll. Gates feels getting more work done in-house is essential to restoring accountability to procurement.
Even with upsurge in applications to government, agencies know that bolstering the acquisition workforce and hiring former contractors will not be easy. It strikes at the root of defining competencies and comparing experience to potential. To find qualified people, some agencies may well consider hiring and training “generalist” technical and business professionals to become, as TMP’s program for the Federal Acquisition Coalition puts it, “America’s buyers.” I’ll wrap my “government recruitment challenges and trends” in my next post, so check back soon.