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VA hopes laid-off tech workers join government department

"A fulfilling digital career serving Veterans is a great choice for technologists on the job hunt."

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is hoping to take advantage of the mass layoffs in Silicon Valley tech workers in order to fill around 1,000 job openings.

Efforts to modernize the VA are being set back by a lack of technology talent, and recent job losses coupled with a special pay rate to compete with the private sector could help move the department forward, Axios reports.

"We're the largest integrated health care and financial services infrastructure organization in the country," explains VA chief information officer and assistant secretary for information and tech Kurt DelBene. "We also have around a thousand systems that need modernization."

Part of the difficulty in convincing tech workers to make the move from the private to the public sector is the wage disparity. To help sweeten the deal, DelBene is pushing the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to approve a special salary rate that would make government employment more competitive.

DelBene himself recently made the switch from the private to the public sector, having been employed by Microsoft since 1992. He hopes that others will follow suit and make the change, at least while the industry is experiencing its current downturn.

"No one needs to be making a decision for the rest of their life," he said.

The Twitter account of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information and Technology is posting almost daily about how a "fulfilling digital career serving Veterans is a great choice for technologists on the job hunt."

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a number of government agencies to suddenly pivot to remote work and cloud-based infrastructure, making the need for increased cybersecurity much more pressing.

The recently-passed Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, known as the PACT Act, also expanded the reach of the VA to provide healthcare and benefits to veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances during military service. 

Being able to better streamline management of these new benefits is crucial to ensuring that veterans get the support they need.
VA tech work

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