USDA IT shop freezes hiring, offers early retirement

The CIO Office at the Department of Agriculture has instituted a hiring freeze and plans to offer early retirement options to IT workers in an effort to optimize the agency’s tech investments and update the skillset of its workforce, according to a report on Federal News Network.

Voluntary Early Retirement Authority options will be offered to eligible IT specialists – excluding cybersecurity professionals -- with 20 years of service at age 50, or those with 25 years of service at any age. Those staffers may voluntarily retire and earn an immediate annuity. Eligible employees can apply for VERA through mid-August, the department said.

USDA said it plans to accept as many VERA requests as it can, but early retirement offers will be extended on a first-come, first-serve basis, and those who have been accepted are expected to retire by Sept. 30.

The hiring freeze was instituted June 30 and will extend through fiscal 2021. It only applies to IT professionals who “report directly or indirectly to the mission area chief information officers or program executives,” the USDA spokesperson told Federal News Network.

Reader comments

Fri, Aug 14, 2020

I smells a RIF coming...

Thu, Aug 13, 2020 Ted Suburban Maryland

With nearly 30 years of federal government experience, it is my belief that government management with little to no IT experience is generally unqualified to make IT decisions. Experience these days seems to be consistently discredited and undervalued and especially in IT. There are two tightly coupled aspects to IT work: the systems and software and the mission that the systems and software need to accomplish. Recently IT graduates may know the former, but they rarely know the latter, the mission aspect, which often takes years to learn. Without mission knowledge, it can be impossible to judge whether the IT system is doing its job properly. A coworker recently sponsored a summer intern, who developed some software for the program. The software later needed maintenance after the intern had left. Without formal training in the technology used by the intern, my coworker managed to make the intern's software run 60 times faster, and with added capability. Programming languages these days are so abstracted that an understanding of how a computer works is not necessary. But costly. The commenter who said that modest training investments of experienced IT staff yield a better return on investment is correct.

Wed, Aug 12, 2020

USDA swept up all the IT professionals to the department level to outsources them. 200+ jobs gone.

Wed, Aug 12, 2020

Is this a veiled attempt to get rid of older better workers for younger cheaper workers?? If management is sending their IT to for continuing education, as they should be doing, then the "update" should not be necessary.

Wed, Aug 12, 2020

They need to make this offer to all USDA Emplyees

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