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Geek Swap: DOD, Private Sector IT Workers Switch

Mirroring a Homeland Security program, the defense department wants to share best practices and expertise on cloud, mobile, and more.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has become the latest government agency to launch a program that exchanges IT workers with the private sector in an effort to share technology expertise.

The Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP), currently in pilot, allows the department to trade civilian employees with private-sector organizations to share best practices and collaboration in particular IT areas, including service-oriented architectures, cloud computing, enterprise architecture, mobile devices, and cybersecurity, according to the DOD.

"The Defense Department recognizes that sharing information and leveraging best practices are critical components of education and continuous learning," DOD CIO Teri Takai said in a statement. "ITEP provides an opportunity for both industry and DOD to learn from each other--to enhance employees' IT competencies and technical skills."

The program is similar to one the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) already has enacted to share IT workers with the private sector to achieve the same effect. The DHS program also sought cybersecurity experts from the private sector, among employees with other types of expertise.

Employees participating in the exchange will serve three-to-12-month stints in an ITEP position, and there are certain requirements for the types of workers who will be considered, according to the program's website.

In addition to sharing IT knowledge, workers participating in ITEP must be U.S. citizens, mid-career level employees, and may also be required to have a security clearance, depending on the position. Moreover, private-sector employees working in the government through the program will be paid by their current employers, and vice versa.

The fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act is providing funding for ITEP, according to the DOD.

Outgoing U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra first introduced the idea of exchanging IT workers with the private sector as part of a 25-point IT reform plan he unveiled in December.

Kundra, who will depart next month for a post at Harvard University, has been proactive in working with the private sector to learn from business leaders how to better utilize IT in the public sector.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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