Time for a Change

Time for a Change

WASHINGTON (02/28/2000) - The government should take a cue from the private sector and supply each federal employee with a laptop and Internet service, a top U.S. Army official said last week.

Miriam Browning, director of information management at the Army, made the comment at the Virtual Government 2000 conference in Washington, D.C. "If Delta and Ford can do it so should we," she said, adding that the Army is considering giving laptops to its recruits.

Ford Motor Co. earlier this month announced it planned to give its 350,000 employees home PCs and Internet access for a nominal fee. Delta Air Lines followed the next day with a similar promise to its employees.

Browning and others speaking on the IT digital work force panel agreed that the government must reform the way it recruits, hires and retains IT workers. Pay, benefits, hiring procedures and job titles for IT workers in the government need to better reflect private-sector practices.

"Pay for IT professionals in government needs to be re-engineered. We have to hire people based on skills and competencies we need," Browning said. "We need to accelerate the hiring process so we can make an offer within a week. I have lost good people to other DOD agencies" because the hiring process takes too long.

Agencies should relax their dress codes, support flexible work hours and hire people with talent whether they have a high school, college or graduate degree, Browning said. "I think we need to make everyone welcome."

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