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White House to Encourage Tech Workers to Do Civic Tours of Duty

The White House hopes to gain more tech expertise amongst its ranks with “civic tours of duty.”

On Monday, a number of tech giants, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM, are planning to attend an event hosted by the White House Office of American Innovation, which hopes to encourage the companies’ employees to do brief stints in government.

The objective is to get these companies to allow and encourage their employees to “take leaves of absence to help modernize state and federal agencies,” reports The Washington Post.

“The country benefits when patriotic citizens with technical expertise choose to serve at the federal, state, or local level,” Christopher Liddell, deputy chief of staff for policy coordination told the Post.

New talent is hard to come by in the government, particularly because it pays less than the tech giants. According to the Partnership for Public Service, less than 3% of full-time federal employees working in tech are under 30.

The White House hopes to change that, with one unnamed official telling the Post, “It’s good for the country in the long term for technology professionals to have civil service in their career at some point.”

But while some companies have allowed for these short leaves of absence in the past, it’s unclear whether the White House has their buy-in this time around. Google, for example, explained that it’s currently “examining its leave policies” around civic tours of duty.