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States Brace For IT Retirements

Illinois' chief technology officer, Mary Barber Reynolds, may soon be losing a significant portion of her workforce--and not because of layoffs. This spring, Illinois passed an early-retirement incentive plan for state workers, and Reynolds says 30% of Illinois' IT workers will be eligible to retire in the next year. Workers will sign up for the plan between August and December, and she estimates that more than half of those eligible will retire.

Illinois isn't the only one facing this problem. The federal government estimates that nearly half of the 30,000 civilian IT workers eligible for retirement by 2004 might do so. In Connecticut, CIO Rock Regan says about 35% of his workers will be eligible to retire in the next few years. "There's not much I can do about it right now, but in the back of my mind I'm worried," he says. "If all those people retire, how are we going to keep the lights on?"

For many states, the retirement wave will prompt technology upgrades, because they'll be losing workers who may have looked after legacy applications for two decades or more. Regan says he's looking at which skills will still be available on his staff, and, in some cases, he'll target retirement dates for certain legacy apps and bring in technology that's more easily supported.

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