OPM's IT Security Innovation
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is not usually an agency associated with innovative IT policies, until now. OPM's Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP) provides the opportunity for top IT professionals from the private sector to work in governments jobs for three months or longer while allowing "exceptional individuals" in the civil service comparable private sector experience.
IT security is one of the disciplines highlighted by OPM for exchange opportunities. EPA and the Commerce Department are among the agencies specifically requesting IT security professionals. Other agencies participating in the ITEP include Treasury, DHS and Defense.
Authorized by the E-Government Act of 2002, one of ITEP's primary goals is to allow private sector professionals to "gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the challenges Federal agencies face in meeting the growing demand for government services." The program also allows agency officials to "be exposed to private industry's best practices management...."
The potential impact of the employee exchange program on procurement issues raises a number of questions. First among these is whether "private sector organizations that are in competition for agency IT procurement contracts" are "prohibited from receiving a detailed Federal employee?" The short answer is no. There are, of course, statutory restrictions on protecting confidential business information that agencies need to carefully enforce.
A second key question whether federal officials who have participated in the ITEP are "prohibited from participating in evaluation, review, or selection activities where the private sector organization to which the Federal employee was detailed is competing?" Again the answer is no, as long as the statutes to protect the integrity of federal procurement process are observed. OPM also notes the existing statutory guidance that needs to be adhered to with respect to "private sector detailee's involvement in contracts involving their organization or their organization's competitors."
Agencies participating in the program will provide OPM with semi-annual reports about the employee exchange including the names of individuals taking advantage of the opportunities provided "as well as the private sector organization and the agency (including the specific bureau or other agency component) to or from which such individual was assigned." The duties and responsibilities of the participants will also be reported to OPM.
Click to see ITEP Overview