Amid the last-minute efforts to fund the federal government and temporarily avert a shutdown, the House also agreed to legislation that would update or create new job series for federal employees working in software and data positions.

The House voted 416 to 9 to pass legislation that would give the Office of Personnel Management 270 days to create one or more occupational series for federal positions in the fields of software development, software engineering, data science and data management.

Currently, federal technology positions can be classified under the computer science, computer engineering, information technology management and IT cybersecurity specialist series.

“The federal government’s current recruiting efforts related to computer technologies too often focus on research and development skills, and not enough on the practical application of that specialized knowledge,” Rep. James Comer, R-Tenn., said at the May committee hearing on the bill.

“The ability to recruit and retain qualified software and data professionals is increasingly important, particularly as our government and private sector must withstand more frequent and sophisticated cybersecurity threats,” he added.

The legislation does not prescribe how or under what group OPM should establish these new series or what the requirements should be for feds looking to hold such positions. But the bill does fulfill a recommendation issued by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which was established in 2018 to consider how the federal government can best approach AI technologies.

Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.

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