With a federal hiring freeze ordered across the board for federal agencies, government organizations find themselves rethinking operations—including IT.

It’s a tough reality for federal IT teams, with civilian agencies seeing the deepest impact. The order heavily affects IT professionals, who already face an array of challenges and limitations between budget constraints, manpower deficiencies and skills shortages.

While the immediate effects on federal IT remain unknown, the freeze could certainly complicate recent efforts to bolster the U.S. government’s cybersecurity posture. Still, if there’s a silver lining, perhaps it’s this: Federal IT decision-makers can use this time as an opportunity to improve their existing processes, become more efficient and potentially improve security.

Conduct a skills audit

Delivering effective results relies heavily on having the right skills in place. It means not being over- or understaffed—a particular challenge during a hiring freeze, especially when projects are regularly added and removed.

Even so, the freeze presents federal IT departments with an opportunity to step back and analyze their existing workforce. It means they can reorganize their working approach by focusing on using their existing skill sets to the best advantage.

To succeed here, IT decision-makers must formulate a realistic view of where skills gaps and overlaps exist. This starts with a skills audit. They need to understand the skills attached to existing roles and compare this to the current workforce.

In turn, federal agencies can use the resulting findings to improve efficiencies and address staffing issues. For example, on projects where there is a duplication of skills, agencies can reassign staff to understaffed projects.

Be more selective

Federal IT departments are often inundated with projects intended to improve and deliver services. However, the freeze may force IT departments to be more selective and, ultimately, to better prioritize current projects by focusing on those with the greatest potential impact.

While this could delay or impact services, there’s also an opportunity to scrutinize incoming projects more than before. Rather than feeling like every problem must be solved, IT departments will have to be selective and choose the projects with the biggest impact for citizens. Doing this will require executive leadership support but will allow projects with the most importance to remain moving forward and be completed on time.

Embrace automation

A hiring freeze doesn’t necessarily mean a spending freeze. If organizations know what skills they have available and which projects matter most, they can use technology to supplement a lack of human capital.

Imagine an organization with data centers across the country. Traditionally a network or security engineer would be tasked with managing users’ access and permissions levels, monitoring server utilization and manually adjusting network or security policy as necessary.

But automated solutions such as software-defined networking allow organizations to take full control of their networks while handing off repetitive, time-consuming work to computers. Network engineers can write scripts and applications that, once deployed, can automatically adjust permissions or change network policy depending on network behavior. Automation technologies can also enable security policies to dynamically change based on previously set criteria. This allows security professionals to focus more time on new threats instead of threats that have already been identified and remediated.

Taking these time intensive, often repetitive tasks away from IT staff gives them more time invest in value-added work. They can be more strategic and forward-thinking, allowing them to develop proactive solutions that enhance organizational operations as a whole.

In Conclusion

The federal hiring freeze is real and has immediate effects for federal agencies. While the challenges are substantial, there are opportunities at hand. While they may not offer a quick fix, they can provide long-term positive results. But to take full advantage, agencies have to be quick-footed and willing to evolve.

Jason Parry is vice president of client solutions at Sirius Federal.

This article originally appeared at www.nextgov.com. Read the original article.

Related Blog Posts

See All Blogs

How Proper Collaboration Tools Make or Break Long-Term Telework Plans for Federal Agencies

Effective collaboration tools can eliminate silos and accelerate missions. But getting to a modern and secure collaboration environment can be a daunting task for federal agencies, especially with today’s mobile workforce. In the year and a half since the onset…

Sirius Federal Helps Maryland Food Bank Fight Hunger Through Virtual Food Drive

Sirius Federal ran a virtual food drive during the month of September to support the Maryland Food Bank in its fight against hunger insecurities.

Sirius Federal Kicks Off America’s VetDogs Partnership

Sirius Federal recently kicked off our partnership with America’s VetDogs, a charity dedicated to providing service and guide dogs for veterans and first responders.

The Role AI Has in Redefining Federal Telehealth Practices

Federal telehealth practices use AI to uncover the best mix of human and machine communication, leading to more productive care and treatment.

White House Encourages Federal Agencies to Modernize Their Data Centers

Government agencies encouraged to modernize in response to cybersecurity threats.

The Need for Exhaustive Data Protection in the Federal Government

SolarWinds breach prompts federal courts to add new security procedures to protect highly sensitive court documents.

Key Ways Converged Infrastructure Can Help Your Agency Conquer Cloud Migration

Learn how converged infrastructure can help your agency ditch the silos and modernize your data center for today’s cloud world.

Federal IT Focus Areas for 2H of 2021

In the aftermath of an unprecedented year riddled with a teleworking surge, election-year tension and—last but certainly not least—a global pandemic affecting every industry and organization in our nation, it’s safe to say that 2021 was welcomed with open arms.…

5 Tools to Help Federal Employees Return to Work Safely

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across the country, federal agencies are slowly bringing employees back into the office. However, many employees who have spent several months working in a remote environment may be nervous about returning to the office,…

Using the CDM Program to Keep Federal Networks Secure No Matter Where Employees Work

As federal agencies deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on where and how employees work, federal CIOs that were already facing constraints securing their networks prior to the pandemic now have to contend with network security for the…

Remote, Hybrid, Onsite – Tools To Secure Federal Networks No Matter Where Teams Work

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, federal agencies are beginning to bring employees back into the office. Whether teams are returning to the office full time, continuing to work in a remote environment, or using a hybrid approach, the top priority is…

Sirius Federal Awarded ITES-SW2 Contract

Crofton, MD—September 9, 2020— Sirius Federal, a Sirius company, has been awarded the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-Software 2 (ITES-SW2) contract. In addition to helping save time on procurement and cutting costs by consolidating their software purchases, the ITES-SW2 contract allows…

Sirius Federal Gives Back to the Community Through Virtual Food Drive

Philanthropy and community outreach have always been an integral part of Sirius Federal’s corporate culture. To support those in need in our communities, Sirius Federal is running a Virtual Food Drive during the month of September to support the Maryland…

Ignore the Workforce at Your IT Modernization Peril

Federal agencies are currently faced with the daunting task of modernizing billions of dollars’ worth of outdated technology. On the path to IT modernization success, the investment in technology represents only half the battle though — agencies also need to…

Sirius Federal Named Public Sector Partner of the Year and Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year at Cisco Partner Summit

This week, Sirius Federal was recognized for our leadership in the public sector by receiving two awards at the Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas, NV. Sirius Federal was named the Americas Geographical Region Public Sector Partner of the Year…

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan that Keeps Pace with Technology

The fear of a disaster in your data center is what nightmares are made of for technology teams. Are the systems backed-up properly? Will we lose data? How much downtime will we incur? Does the team know what to do?…

Protecting your Agency from Phishing

As we spend an increasingly large percentage of our time online, we’ve become aware of the malicious tactics used to trick us into downloading malware or betraying our credentials. Even as our built-in threat detection improves, we risk letting it…

Choosing an IT Solution Provider that Keeps Projects on Track

Most of us have experienced a project that hasn’t gone quite as planned. Information wasn’t received at the right time, different teams had completely different interpretations of the requirements, or somebody didn’t realize they were responsible for a task. Little…

TechTarget: Big Blue Drives Collaboration Among IBM Business Partners

IBM is investing in resources and business processes to make it easier for IBM business partners to create alliances with each other. Following last month's IBM Think conference in San Francisco, Senior Director of Software Practice Charles Fullwood discusses the…

Deployment and Resident Engineers Deliver On-Site Solutions

At Sirius Federal, we provide solutions. From infrastructure management to cloud migration, we create custom answers to federal IT’s most pressing problems. But we believe strong, sustainable solutions involve more than just software and hardware. What agencies often need most…

WBJ: Here’s What it Takes for a Mid-Tier Maryland Contractor to Compete in Evolving Federal IT Marketplace

More than three-fourths of federal government agencies — about 77 percent, according to a Government Accountability Office report — will not meet their planned technology modernization goals by the end of the year. Our CEO, Mike Greaney, recently sat down…

The Rally Call for Digital Transformation Is Here: Are You Ready for the Journey?

Today, digital transformation has become the rallying cry for government organizations aiming to innovate and improve operations. The promise of digital transformation is profound: faster and more informed decision-making, improved customer insights, greater cost savings, more reliable products and services,…

3 Tactics to Avoid Insider Threats Posed by Third-Party Contractors

"The balance between too much security and too little is delicate. Overzealous access policies can bring efficiency and productivity to a screeching halt. But an overly lax approach can expose sensitive data to people who don’t need it and shouldn’t…

Improving Insider Threat Detection with Security Integration

With cyber-attacks like Nyetya and WannaCry dominating headlines over the last several months, you’d think malware would top the list of security pro’s biggest concerns. But you’d be wrong, according to the SANS Institute’s 2017 annual data security survey. While…

Unstructured Data: The Threat You Cannot See

In this article for Dark Reading, Sirius Federal software practice director Charles Fullwood examines why security teams needs to take a cognitive approach to the increasing volumes of data flowing from sources they don't control. Every day, IT security teams…

Expect security, cloud spending in 2018 Federal IT Budget

In recent interviews with TechTarget, industry leaders--including Sirius Federal's Greg Kushto--cited an uptick in federal IT procurement activity during the government's fiscal fourth quarter and expected FY 2018 to feature security and cloud investments. IT solution providers planning to pursue…

NextGov: How to Unleash Federal IT Workers as Changemakers

Written by Sirius Federal's vice president of client solutions Jason Parry, this article was originally published at www.NextGov.com. The public-sector workforce has always been plagued by stereotypes. To the layman, “government job” calls to mind images of a middle-aged bureaucrat,…

SearchITChannel: New tech, old virtues keep server virtualization going

"Server virtualization is well past the peak of the technology adoption curve, but SMB customers, open source technology and hybrid clouds keep demand going." —John Moore, SearchITChannel Server virtualization platforms have been around for ages and would seem to be old…

FedTech: How to Make the Most of the Federal Hiring Freeze

Although the freeze may constrain resources, it is also an opportunity to conduct an IT inventory, invest in training and prioritize projects. In this article for FedTech, writer Phil Goldstein addresses how federal agencies are handling the recently announced federal…

DevOps: An Evolving Approach for Evolving IT Teams

By promoting collaboration and better communication, DevOps practices can help IT teams raise their profile and generate better outcomes for their organization. And here's how: Imagine you’re an architect tasked with designing a massive mixed-used building in Washington D.C. It’s…