We can’t improve government without understanding it

By Brandon Lardy | August 15, 2019

Welcome to Fed Figures, a new We the Partnership series that uses data to shed light on our nation’s federal workforce.

Our mission at the Partnership for Public Service is to help make our government more effective. But to improve the way government works, first we need to understand it. How many people work for the federal government? How many of them are outside of the Washington, D.C., area? What do they do? How has their work changed over time?

By examining the latest federal workforce data, we can better understand the strengths of our government and the challenges that may undermine its effectiveness now and in the future. Let’s take federal information technology as an example.

Replacing aging legacy IT systems continues to be a challenge for many agencies. But agency leaders aren’t just grappling with outdated technology—they’re also dealing with an aging workforce. At the end of the second quarter in fiscal 2018, there were 20 times as many IT employees over the age of 50 as there were under 30, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management.

By using data to pull back the curtain on this issue, we can see that if agency leaders want to modernize federal IT management, they’ll also need to grapple with a significant human capital challenge.

Next month on Fed Figures, we’ll take a closer look at one of the most persistent myths about the federal government: its size.

Are you interested in more insights on the federal workforce? Check out our latest in-depth analysis. Do you have ideas for future Fed Figures posts? Send them to us at blardy@ourpublicserivce.org.


Brandon Lardy