I can't speak from a Federal gov't HR perspective, mine is from the private sector (for a number of years) and the state level. From the field of HR, there might be some truth to "Mission support (IT, HR, Acquisition) government folks are as a whole less qualified and competent than private sector mission support". I have seen a difference in skill level in private vs. public HR, but I suspect it has to do with the state of Arizona's low salary schedule and now add to that the state's budget problems. If you can't attract (okay, sometimes we attract, but we're not Retaining!) employees with a certain skill set, and you have need to fill a position, what do you do?