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West Virginia IT Agency Struggles to Bring in IT Talent

With cyberthreats growing, staffing the West Virginia Office of Technology is more important than ever. Comparatively low pay and better opportunities in the private sector contribute to the vacancies.

by Phil Kabler, The Charleston Gazette / January 31, 2020
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(TNS) — On the same day a county schools computer system was the apparent target of a cyberattack, Administration Secretary Allan McVey on Thursday told members of the Senate Finance Committee approximately 22 percent of positions in the state’s Office of Technology are unfilled.

“We’re on it. We’re going to help them through it,” McVey said of the school system, whose identity he did not disclose. He said it is too early to know if the cyberattack involved ransomware.

With cybersecurity a growing issue, McVey said, staffing that office is increasingly important. Comparatively low pay and better opportunities in the private sector, he said, have contributed to the vacancies.

“They do get trained, and then there are spaces out there in the private sector that unfortunately — or, fortunately for the economy — pay more than we can,” McVey said during the department’s budget presentation.

About 48 of 216 full-time positions in the agency are open in a competitive market for Information Technology jobs, Josh Spence, state chief technology officer, said.

He said there is less turnover among who stay with the state long enough to be vested in the state pension plan, but added it is hard to keep recent college graduates from looking at private sector opportunities.

“It’s hard to retain employees coming out of college,” he said.

Also Thursday:

McVey said work on the Capitol dome restoration project is now “a little over halfway finished.”

The $14.5 million project to repair water damage and major structural issues within the dome began in January 2018, but was halted that summer when the original contractor could not comply with a requirement to build scaffolding around the dome that was not weight-bearing on the dome structure.

The contract was then awarded to Pullman Power, of Pittsburgh, which resumed work in the fall of 2018. That has pushed the project completion date back to spring of 2021.

Public Employees Insurance Agency executive director Ted Cheatham reiterated that PEIA will need to spend down about $34 million of a $105 million rainy day fund approved by the Legislature last year during the 2020-21 plan year.

Cheatham has said that reserve fund should allow the health insurance plan for public school and state employees to get through the 2021-22 plan year without having to impose premium increases or benefit cuts, but the plan will need additional state funding the following year.

©2020 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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