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Government Workforce in Focus: Closing the Data and Analytics Skills Gap

Standing between the federal government and improved delivery of services is the data skills gap. Federal managers worry that prospective employees entering the job market lack the analytical skills, statistical competencies and technical proficiency needed to understand the federal government’s large and complex datasets.

The data skills gap comes at a time when federal government employees need to have a diverse set of abilities. They need to work across teams, communicate effectively and be prudent stewards of limited fiscal resources. Possibly most importantly, employees must have the analytical skills needed to capitalize on the volumes of data that agencies now collect.

“There is no question that a data skills gap is threatening America’s future, and in particular, the workforce of the federal government,” said Karen Terrell, Vice President, SAS Federal, in GovLoop’s recent research brief, Government Workforce in Focus: Closing the Data and Analytics Skills Gap.

For this research brief, we partnered with SAS, the global leader in business analytics software and services, and surveyed 283 public-sector professionals. As it turns out, they agree with Terrell’s assessment. A stunning 96 percent of respondents said they believe they have a data skills gap at their agency. Read the report below or download a PDF:


The survey responses provide insights on the unique nature of closing that gap in the public sector. The federal workforce clearly sees the opportunity to transform agencies through data, but too often those agencies face significant workforce hurdles to capitalize on their operational and performance data, our research found.

As the federal government continues to compete to attract top talent, there is no priority more important than building a skilled workforce capable of meeting the complex challenges of public-sector missions.

Our research brief will explore several aspects of this problem: why the data and analytics skills gap exists, how it affects government at a time when more and more agencies are using data to transform their decision-making, challenges in surmounting the gap, and options the federal government is exploring to close it.