Federal CIO Council Launches Coding Challenge

The Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council has launched a new effort to attract top information technology (IT) talent to the federal government. The Council’s coding challenge builds upon a common private sector hiring technique to allow potential government employees to showcase their coding skills while facing real world tech challenges.

The challenge kicked off May 6 with a Front End Challenge which runs until June 9. The challenge, open to government employees and the general public, consists of eight questions taking an hour and 15 minutes to complete. The Front End Challenge requires participants to use their coding knowledge to navigate through the questions.

On June 10, phase two of the challenge commences. The Core CS Challenge tests “problem-solving skills, coding knowledge, and fundamentals using a coding language of the participant’s choice” through July 7.

Phase three of the challenge tests participants’ technical experience in network engineering, software development, and operational best practices. The final phase ends on August 7.

The challenge was announced via Twitter on May 6, and participants have until the end of phase one to enter.

The challenge webpage explains, “The federal government must attract top IT talent to modernize federal IT systems and deliver the most secure and effective services to the American people. To recruit the best qualified IT talent, in the most timely and cost-effective manner, we need to transform the federal IT hiring process.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported a shortage of IT positions in the federal government resulting from an inability for the federal government to source and recruit top talent.

The CIO Council was created as an “interagency forum for improving agency practices related to the design, acquisition, development, modernization, use, sharing, and performance of Federal information resources” in 2002 under the E-Government Act.

“The code challenge is an initiative to allow anyone with the necessary technical skills to help government solve problems, and to allow federal agencies to take a look at potential interested candidates for IT-related jobs,” a CIO Council spokesperson told FedScoop. The Council hopes to use the challenge to “explore the talent available in this field to fill current and future opportunities in the federal IT workforce.”

According to FedScoop, private sector companies use code challenges often to recruit and skill screen potential hires. HackerRank, the code challenge platform used by the CIO Council, is also used by Airbnb, Uber, and Dropbox.

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