Proposed White House Budget Includes Incentives for Workforce Skills Enhancement

Among the numerous reforms proposed in the White House’s FY 2021 budget, several were aligned with the key drivers of transformation in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), which empowered public service workers to use modern technology to support data-driven decision making. The proposed budget includes initiatives to recruit, retain, and reward Federal employees strategically.

Let’s look at how the requests relate to the PMA:

  • Federal hiring process – To apply what was learned from these results, the 2021 budget proposal includes expanding the limits for hiring experts for specific terms, establishing industry-government exchange programs, and modernizing position qualifications – including reevaluating degree requirements.
  • Recruitment Tactics – The budget outlines strategies to entice younger and IT-savvy workers to join the government and retrain the existing workforce. In addition, it calls for better incentives and rewards for highly-skilled and performing employees and expanding the retraining initiatives from the centrally-managed Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy to more focused programs stationed at each agency.
  • Reskilling – The proposed budget accounts for reskilling 20% of the existing Federal workforce (approximately 400,000 people) for roles that are hard to fill, such as those in the data science and analytics, cybersecurity, IT, and project management fields.
  • Robotic Process Automation – Upon establishment of the Federal Robotic Process Automation Reskilling Academy, employees will learn how to conduct process mapping and develop and deploy ‘bots’ without the need for extensive information technology training.
  • Funding for Training Initiatives – The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will work together to centrally test and develop governmentwide reskilling initiatives that will be funded primarily by the agencies. An increase of 1% of agency discretionary salary budget has been proposed to fund performance-based awards (focused on staff with mission-critical skills), and employee training programs.
  • Opportunity for Advancement – Recommendations include OPM offering new executive assessments to help agencies identify top applicants to improve the leadership pipeline for Senior Executive Service (SES) positions in addition to other changes related to the President’s 2018 workforce executive orders.
  • Salary Increase – The proposed budget includes a 3% raise for military service members and a 1% raise for civilian Federal employees, complemented by increased issuance of performance-based bonuses and other financial awards.

“This increase in awards spending will allow agencies to effect an awards and recognition program that drives positive behavior; provides opportunities for employees to develop, grow, and enhance their careers; and recognizes accomplishments in a timely way.”

A Budget for America’s Future – President’s Budget FY 2021

While this summary only represents a tiny sliver of the White House’s proposed budget for 2021, the focus on improving the caliber of our public service workforce is unmistakable. The sooner the Federal Government’s technology catches up to its commercial counterparts, the more appeal it will have to individuals with the skills needed to lead future initiatives and better serve the American public.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources
Media Type:

Putting Robotic Process Automation to Work in the Federal Government
Just How Important is Data Quality?