U.S. Senator George Voinovich from Ohio warned of the U.S. federal human capital crisis in 2000 in the "Report to the President: The Crisis in Human Capital," prepared by the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia. At that time, Senator Voinovich indicated that more than half of the federal workforce would be eligible to leave (retire) in just four years. Part of the problem causing this ensuing crisis was due to poor planning during the government's downsizing in the 1990s, the agencies' inabilities to compete with the private sector for talented workers, and insufficient commitment to training and development. According to Jason Peckenpaugh's Government Executive article "Report Outlines Ways to Improve the Federal Workforce" on December 5, 2000, the NASA Inspector General testified that she constantly loses qualified candidates to the private sector because it takes an average of four to six months for candidates to navigate the federal hiring process. The report identified some ways to reform and rejuvenate the federal workforce including: agencies having limited "direct" or "on-the-spot" hiring authority for information technology positions and outstanding applicants; training budgets should be centralized and given their own line item in agency budgets; and agencies should have greater flexibility to experiment with broad-banding payment systems (http://18.104.22.168/dailyfed/i200/i20500pi.htm).
In July 2001, David Walker (the Comptroller General of the United States at the General Accounting Office) indicated that the key competitive element in the twenty-first century is people. He noted that the human capital crisis extends to the "IT" (information technology) workforce in the federal government. Walker pointed out that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for computer systems analysts, engineers, and scientists will almost double between 1998 and 2008, and that the demand for computer programmers will increase by 30 percent during this same time period. For the federal computer specialist series, Walker and the GAO estimated that 30 percent of these employees would be eligible to retire by the end of FY2006 and that 14 percent would actually retire by then. The numbers are even higher for telecommunications and program management series. State and local governments, as well as the private sector, also face similar IT human capital challenges (http://www.gao.gov/cghome/ia/egov.htm).
According to U.S. Government figures, 53 percent of the federal civil servants are eligible to retire in the next five years, and 71 percent of those are in the Senior Executive Service (SES) (http://www.fedmanagers.org/help_ease_human_capital_crisis_fehbp.htm). The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) wants agencies to go from 180 to 30 days for hiring and to accelerate the SES selection process. In some agencies, such as NASA, there are at least twice as many people in the over-6o age group in certain job classifications as those in the under-30 age group. A January 21, 2002, Government Computer News article by Preeti Vasishtha indicates that a poll commissioned by the Council for Excellence in Government after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks tragic event showed that although people between 18 and 29 years old look more favorably on government jobs than do older workers, more than 80 percent of college-educated Americans reject Uncle Sam as a potential employer. According to Pamela Ferdinand's Washington Post article "But Do You Want Uncle Sam?" (November 21, 2001), the federal government has reduced its workforce by 20 percent since 1993, and some projects indicate that the government faces a further dramatic shedding of baby boomer employees eligible for retirement over the next five years. Various Congresspersons, such as former Representative Constance Morella and others, feel that "human capital" experts should be part of any public agency's executive team and that management cadres should be fostered government-wide. A basic problem has been that the federal government has failed to adequately recruit, retain, and train workers for the twenty-first century.