FedSmith: Federal workers need tools and technology to be more productive
In Part 1 of our interview, Ralph and Ian Smith of the FedSmith.com federal workplace portal spoke of the “targeting” of government workers because of the budget problems that Congress and federal agencies are facing today. In this second part of the interview, the Smiths cover a variety of topics of interest to government employees.
Govpro: Are federal workers well-equipped to do their jobs? Would technology upgrades and better equipment help them to be more productive?
Ralph Smith: I think that technology upgrades would help them to be more productive. That’s what our experience on this issue has been, and it is based in part on observation, and in part on the thousands of e-mails and comments from readers that we receive. It really depends on the agency. Some federal agencies have done a very good job, it appears, on keeping up to date or more up to date on technology than others, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s based in part on their mission and in part based on the leadership of the agency.
A high percentage of the federal work force is eligible or will be soon be eligible to retire. The federal Office of Personnel Management has been talking for several years about a pending retirement tsunami, because of the ever-increasing average age of the federal worker. I’m guessing that what may happen is that as new workers are recruited — people that are very used to and expect to be using social media and current technology — that the new recruits are going to make sure that new technology is adopted.
It’s all over the lot as far as what technologies federal agencies have or don’t have. In many cases, I think they are pretty far behind. President Obama was publicly complaining recently about not having some of the latest technology in the White House, and I can guarantee you that if the White House is behind on some of the latest and greatest inventions, then the agencies are way behind the White House.
I’d like to think that we’ve been in the forefront on a lot of the technology issues with our web site and our newsletter that goes out each day.
Ian Smith: I can address that from a more technical angle — like what Ralph was saying, broadly speaking, there probably does seem to be a trend of agencies being behind the technology curve. In looking at our web site traffic, I can confirm that. I used to get frustrated because, for a long time, I would look at our traffic data, and government workers were using web browsers that were quite outdated, and I’ve gradually seen that fall off. Government agencies are now using the more modern browsers. I’m sure that’s because federal agency staffers are using whatever PC system they are assigned, and, hopefully, agency IT teams are upgrading the hardware and software.
Govpro: Are there any articles that draw a lot of traffic to FedSmith.com? Your site already gets about 2 million page-views and a half-million visitors every month.
Ralph Smith: We’ve discovered that we’ve had a lot of interest in our articles on retirement — both from former federal workers who are currently retired, but also from people who are thinking about retiring at some point in the future. Our readers are telling us that they are interested in retirement topics.
Part 3 of this interview will appear soon on Govpro.com.