Federal talent drive

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Red tape hinders recruitment at US defence agency.

The US Department of Defense needs an overhaul if it is to successfully recruit and retain leading global talent in science, technology, engineering and maths, according to the report Assuring the U.S. Department of Defense a Strong Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce. Released on 25 October by the US National Academies in Washington DC, the report finds that STEM professionals view the federal agency as an undesirable workplace because of red tape, a lack of civilian training opportunities, burdensome security-clearance requirements and below-average facilities and equipment. In the near- to mid-term, the agency will probably need to recruit researchers and engineers with expertise in cybersecurity, intelligence, biosecurity and nanotechnology, among other areas, the report notes. To maximize recruitment potential, the agency should relax or expedite some of its security-clearance requirements, the report recommends. It also proposes that the US federal government modify its work-visa and green-card systems to help non-US researchers work and stay in the country.

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