In D.C., IT Procurement Takes Center Stage

What’s New This Quarter

Washington’s very messy year came to an end with a mid-December plea from President Obama to Silicon Valley’s top executives for advice and guidance in improving the Affordable Care Act’s technological underpinnings. Perhaps the only good thing to come out of the HealthCare.gov disaster is that tough questions about how the government buys and builds information technology are now a topic of serious debate.

Washington D.C.Editorial writers are calling for smarter IT buying, agile development processes, and more flexible hiring of technologists. The president himself has called for IT procurement reform. He’s not alone. Congress came up with the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which would have given agency chief information officers more authority and responsibility for justifying IT expenditures, and established a center to coordinate IT acquisitions. The bill would have also created the Federal Infrastructure and Common Application Collaboration Center, which would have advised agencies on IT procurement. The cost: $145 million through 2018.

The legislation passed the House as an amendment to the 2014 annual defense spending bill, but was ultimately excluded in the final version. It will likely come around again next year. In the meantime, another bill called the Federal Information Technology Savings, Accountability, and Transparency Act is now being proposed. Among other things, it would require agencies to disclose cost and performance information for at least 80 percent of their IT portfolio.

Unfortunately, some of that forward momentum has been slowed by the very distracting revelations about the information gathering habits of several intelligence agencies, and the gripping case of Edward Snowden has raised all sorts of troubling questions about how IT contractors and subcontractors go about vetting their employees. Perhaps 2014 will bring some fundamental changes to the ways in which IT work gets done in Washington.

Skills in Demand

“Companies in the Washington, D.C., market continue to look for skilled technology professionals,” said Chris Brinkman, Washington, D.C., Regional Vice President of Robert Half Technology. “IT consultants with Web and application development expertise are in particular demand, as companies seek to enhance their existing websites as well as build new sites and develop mobile applications.” Sixty percent of the Washington, D.C., technology executives surveyed by RHT said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. Windows administration and desktop support followed.

Local recruiters also see strong demand for software developers in such areas as .NET, SharePoint, ERP and Java. Database management is also in high demand.

Salary Trends

According to TechAmerica’s Cyberstates 2013 report, D.C.’s tech workers (including those in the surrounding regions of Maryland and Virginia) earned an annual average wage of $102,000 (the 5th highest of all states), 106 percent more than Virginia’s average private sector wage. “It may surprise many but one of every 10 private sector workers in Virginia works for a technology company, the highest concentration in the nation,” says Matthew Kazmierczak, the TechAmerica Foundation’s vice president of research and reports. “Maryland had the fourth highest concentration of tech workers, with 8.6 percent of its private sector workforce in tech. Even D.C. ranked within the top 10, with 7.2 percent of its workforce in tech.”

Robert Half Technology reports that 12 percent of Washington, D.C.-area technology executives surveyed expect to expand their IT teams in the first half of the new year, and 65 percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles. In the same survey, 85 percent of CIOs were optimistic about their companies’ prospects for growth this quarter.

Leading Industries

  • Government
  • Defense Contracting
  • Outsourced Government Services
  • Banking
  • Healthcare

Local Employment and Research Resources

Comments

  1. BY Unemployed DC Contractor says:

    The “clearing” process in the DC Metro is retarded.. compounded by employer long-term unemployment discrimination. I have at least 2 “offers” pending government winning awards, spanning a wait time of 3 and 9 months, respectively. Often, no having a clearance is a non-starter to companies who are otherwise interested, thus keeping more unemployed candidates out of the workforce/economy.

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