Defense Department, Other Federal Agencies

The “best and brightest” are avoiding government service, says NY Times

The Rat has apparently joined a growing movement in government by departing from his years of service: the brain drain. And according to the NY Times, new brains aren’t coming in to replace the old ones because of the draw of places like Google.

A survey quoted in the Times article by Phillip Taubman, on the front page of the dead-tree edition, cited a 2007 M.I.T survey of students that found that very few systems engineering students were headed into defense or government positions– “28.7 percent of undergraduates were headed for work in finance, 13.7 in management consulting and just 7.5 percent in aerospace and defense. The top 10 employers included McKinsey, Google, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bain, JPMorgan and Oracle — but not a single military contractor or government office.”

There’s a simple reason for the lack of interest, really: money. The survey showed that the average annual starting salary in finance and high-tech was more than $70,000, compared with $37,000 at the Defense Department,” Taubman wrote.

Combined with the waves of retirement over the past few years, that means that the government–and especially the DOD–has been unable to replace the rapidly evaporating braintrust that handled things like, for example, contract oversight–resulting in things like the Air Force’s tanker contract woes. Folks the Rat has talked with point to the brain drain as being responsible for more and more of the process management on contracts being handed over to the contractors themselves–which is like putting, if you’ll pardon the rodent pejorative, like putting squirrels in charge of counting nuts. (And apparently, according to Defense Systems’ Forward Observer blog, analysts think so too.)

So far, the solutions discussed by government officials aren’t exactly raking in the new braintrust. Becoming an “employer of choice” for Gen Y, as they’re constantly called, is going to take a lot more than making sure current employees are happy ambassadors of workplace joy, or making sure that they can surf Facebook and YouTube from work. The hiring process, which director of the Office of Personnel Management, Kay Coles James admitted in a 2002 interview was actually driving applicants away because of its complexity and length, hasn’t really improved all that much. And to be blunt, the attraction of working on the kinds of interesting problems government folks get to work on is probably not strong enough to draw someone away from an employer offering twice the money AND cool toys.

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Defense Department, Other Federal Agencies

The "best and brightest" are avoiding government service, says NY Times

The Rat has apparently joined a growing movement in government by departing from his years of service: the brain drain. And according to the NY Times, new brains aren’t coming in to replace the old ones because of the draw of places like Google.

A survey quoted in the Times article by Phillip Taubman, on the front page of the dead-tree edition, cited a 2007 M.I.T survey of students that found that very few systems engineering students were headed into defense or government positions– “28.7 percent of undergraduates were headed for work in finance, 13.7 in management consulting and just 7.5 percent in aerospace and defense. The top 10 employers included McKinsey, Google, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bain, JPMorgan and Oracle — but not a single military contractor or government office.”

There’s a simple reason for the lack of interest, really: money. The survey showed that the average annual starting salary in finance and high-tech was more than $70,000, compared with $37,000 at the Defense Department,” Taubman wrote.

Combined with the waves of retirement over the past few years, that means that the government–and especially the DOD–has been unable to replace the rapidly evaporating braintrust that handled things like, for example, contract oversight–resulting in things like the Air Force’s tanker contract woes. Folks the Rat has talked with point to the brain drain as being responsible for more and more of the process management on contracts being handed over to the contractors themselves–which is like putting, if you’ll pardon the rodent pejorative, like putting squirrels in charge of counting nuts. (And apparently, according to Defense Systems’ Forward Observer blog, analysts think so too.)

So far, the solutions discussed by government officials aren’t exactly raking in the new braintrust. Becoming an “employer of choice” for Gen Y, as they’re constantly called, is going to take a lot more than making sure current employees are happy ambassadors of workplace joy, or making sure that they can surf Facebook and YouTube from work. The hiring process, which director of the Office of Personnel Management, Kay Coles James admitted in a 2002 interview was actually driving applicants away because of its complexity and length, hasn’t really improved all that much. And to be blunt, the attraction of working on the kinds of interesting problems government folks get to work on is probably not strong enough to draw someone away from an employer offering twice the money AND cool toys.

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Uncategorized

The last print Rat column ever.

For those of you who have followed the trevails of the Packet Rat over the past 15 years, thanks for reading.   The Rat’s print ramblings have come to an end; here is the last Packet Rat destined for dead trees:

For nearly 15 years, the Rat has been musing in third-person on these pages. A lot has come to pass in that time—when he began, many of those he served with “information services” didn’t even have e-mail addresses.

But now, it’s time for another change, as the wirebiter prepares to re-invent himself again. “Old techies never die,” he told his wife as he sat down to scrawl one last set of missives for the print medium. “They just go into consulting.”

“And old columnists never die,” Mrs. Rat said with a smirk. “They just go online.”

Continue reading

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Defense Department, People

DOD nominates first woman for a fourth star

President Bush nominated Army Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody for promotion to General.  If approved by the Senate, that would make Dunwoody the first woman ever to get a fourth star in the US Military.

Dunwoody became deputy commanding general of the Army Materiel Command on June 17, and was nominated by Defense Secretary Gates to assume command of AMC, putting her in charge of the Army’s  new technology programs, aquisition support and logistics operations. 

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Uncategorized

Checking his chute

With the impending change of administration already dampening the air around the halls of power, and political appointees spotted reading worn copies of What Color is Your Parachute, the Rat has decided that maybe–just maybe–it’s time to start thinking outside the command bunker. After all, the wirebiter is close to hitting his FERS number. And with a wave of retirements coming in a year, the Rat started thinking that maybe he should avoid the rush, and make room for one of his worthy underlings.

“Of course, first, that means I have to find worthy underlings,” he sighed.

He’s thought several times of joining in the CIO shuffle, waiting for senior IT feds to be called up to take over other jobs and quietly sliding in to fill their shoes. However, his last gig as “acting” exposed him enough to political appointees that he was all too happy to give up the sunlight for a chance to recover from the radiation burns.

And then there’s the consideration of what exactly he would do with his time if he left his well-appointed cubicle in the Network Operations Center, with coffee available in five steps in any direction and the power to crush network abusers at the tips of his well-worn claws.

 “I suppose I could always occupy myself with applying the latest Windows patches,” he snickered, seeing the latest seven-pack get shipped out by Redmond in early June. “That would be at least part-time job security somewhere.”

 Of course, considering that, as recently reported, the world spends 200 billion hours a year watching TV–much of it nearly as entertaining as watching patches download and install–the Rat figures there are plenty of free hands available for that semi-automated task.

“I could always turn my powers to evil,” he mused. “With all that free time, I could bring the world to its knees with e-mail scams that are properly spelled…”

“I think you should blog,” his wife said to him. “You spend all your time complaining about things…why not make a business out of it?”

“I think complaining has already been commoditized,” he replied with repressed ire. “What would be my value-add?”

 “You’re a cranky giant techno-rat, and you want to know what your value-add is?” Mrs. Rat smiled. “I think people would pay to not have to listen to you complain in person.”

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buzzword compliance, dot-communism, work

googlement

I’m listening to a speaker from Hampton Roads Transit sing the praises of Google Transit. Last night, the folks from Alabama’s Homeland Security showed off Virtual Alabama, a statewide geospatial application built on Google Earth, which incorporated county data and aerial imagery with utility, law enforcement, school district and other data to create an all-seeing first responder’s application–allowing users, for example, to overlay sex offender data on school bus routes.

Government, especially local and state, loves the word free. And Google’s geospatial and other data standards have made them even more dear to them, since local government data has been locked up in GIS and other databases that would cost millions to integrate independently.

Also, it’ll make the transition to googlement that much easier when the googleplex takes over the world.

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