The House of Representatives voted Sept. 30 to pass H.R. 3533, a bill that would require the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to create an occupational series for Federal government software and data positions.

Specifically, OPM would have to create one or more occupational series for Federal software development, software engineering, data science, and data management positions.

The bill passed the House with an overwhelmingly bipartisan 416-9 vote, with nine members not casting votes. The bill has since been received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The House bill was introduced by Reps. Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., in May.  If it becomes law, the bill would give OPM 270 days to create the new occupational series.

Rep. Obernolte said in June that the bill would help the Federal government improve its IT and cybersecurity workforce in the face of increasing cyberattacks.

“The recent hacks of the Colonial Pipeline and JBS meat processing have highlighted the serious gaps in America’s abilities to protect from and respond to cyber-attacks, especially when they specifically threaten our national security,” the congressman said.

“As a computer scientist, I believe there is much more we can do to improve our government’s ability to preclude incidents like these,” he said. “We need to ensure the federal government has the ability to hire and retain top scientists if we want to improve our national security and prevent future cyberattacks.”

An existing lack of Federal career paths for occupations including software development, data science, and other areas has “stunted the government’s ability to track and manage its digital workforce, attract new technical talent, and create new positions to meet the growing demands of the cyber age,” Rep. Obernolte’s office said.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.