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State Tech Workers Must Re-apply for Their Jobs

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is forcing 1,600 information technology workers across state government to re-apply for their jobs in an effort to screen out those who can’t master the skills of a rapidly changing field, reports The Tennessean.
The state employees association said IT workers are nervous. But the state’s chief information officer said most of them don’t need to worry.
“This is really not about getting rid of people,” Mark Bengel said Wednesday. “It’s about making sure that we do have the skills and we have the ability to develop and retain staff in the future.”
He said Science Applications International Corp., a consulting firm, has started looking at 23 state agencies’ IT operations and analyzing the gap between the skills employees have and the ones they need. Most of its recommendations won’t take effect until the 2014-15 budget year.
“Technology is moving so fast that skills are obsolete in the blink of an eye,” Bengel said.
The changes come in the wake of several large-scale computer system problems that have hindered operations in various state offices, including the Department of Children’s Services, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and the Department of Human Services. The state’s “Project Edison” system, launched in 2008 to bring outdated payroll, accounting and vendor tracking systems into a single, integrated system, was rife with glitches for a couple of years.
Haslam told The Tennessean last fall that some computer systems were “in the ditch.” In part due to those difficulties, the governor has established a Business Solutions Delivery office to centralize IT expertise as the state embarks on contracting for future projects.
Bengel said the IT challenges at some of the departments “certainly contributed” to the restructuring decision.