Saturday, October 04, 2008
Will the "Bailout" lead to government's needing to hire mainframe programmers quickly?
Does the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the Bailout) actually create some I.T. jobs, especially in the Washington DC area?
All of this is speculative. But the Treasury Department is talking about having to hire “experts” immediately to figure out how to value “toxic assets”. It’s not clear whether they would be contractors (probable) or new GS employees. This sort of question has already been posed with respect to the channel credit system (previous post).
Presumably, new systems would have to be written to assess the assets and monitor their purchase, sometimes by “reverse auction.”
This actually could be good for the old mainframe job market. The sort of applications needed would be more your old-fashioned grindhouse financial processing, a lot of it in COBOL with older mainframe technologies like CICS, databases, and automated batch cycles, the kind familiar in financial institutions and the basis of IT jobs 15 years ago, until Y2K. The government would probably be more likely to do this with contractor companies (like EDS, Perot, CA, IBM, etc) than its own, who might be more likely to do the business analysis and supervision With something so critical, it doesn’t make sense (to me at least) to offshore work that is so sensitive to India.
If a lot of the data crunching is to be mainframe style, it presents an issue. The mainframe job market tanked right after Y2K and then 9/11, and since then has been carried out mostly by sort-term contracts where people live in extended stay corporate apartments and travel around the country, using the same expertise (often in areas like MMIS, welfare systems, currency conversions, and the like). The IRS supposedly looks for specialized experience in old mainframe assembler – it’s evaporated. Presumably the economic crisis would create some projects at the Fed as well as the Treasury, most of it old-fashioned.
Yup, a lot of us “retired” – we were driven out. There’s constant talk that the mainframe market will revive, but the people are no longer around. Nobody wants to do this kind of work any more, conventional wisdom says. Some of us, who used to watch those end-of-month cycles 15 to 20 years ago, are in our sixties now.
I will take a look at this quickly. I don’t rule anything out. This could turn out to be an opportunity. It could develop urgently, as the need to get the work started is almost immediate. It’s going to be interesting. Maybe it's at least a boon to the headhunters. Dust off those Murach textbooks.
Later, Oct. 4:
There are news stories now about how the Treasury is hiring individuals and firms to get started.
Bloomberg has a story by By Rebecca Christie and Robert Schmidt, "Treasury to Hire Asset Management Firms to Jumpstart Rescue," link here.
The New York Times has a story by Mark Lander and Edmund Andrews, "For Treasury Dept., Now Comes Hard Part of Bailout," link here.
Update: Jan. 12, 2009
Here is the link for the US Treasure Department's "TARP Jobs" as advertised in the Washington Post (Jan 11, 2009, p F6). Skills wanted are financial equity analysis, risk management, and compliance. "TARP" stands for "Troubled Asset Relief Program."