To stem departures, IRS will give 1,000 programmers 10% bonus

Over the next two years, IRS wants to spend $61 million on raises that agency officials
hope will keep systems employees from defecting to industry.

IRS commissioner Charles Rossotti told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Treasury, Postal Service and General Government that he negotiated the salary increases
with the National Treasury Employees Union.

IRS will give about 1,000 programmers what the service called a 10 percent retention
allowance for the rest of the year, he said.

"We cannot not pay people and then expect high performance and increased
productivity," Rossotti said.

IRS has the money in its budget and won't ask Congress for a supplemental increase, IRS
spokeswoman Michelle Lamishaw said.

NTEU president Robert Tobias said he was satisfied with the agreement, noting that the
benefits package will help IRS keep employees.

"The IRS has been very aggressive in using the tools available to maintain a
critical and talented work force," Tobias said. "This retention allowance is
targeted toward those programmers who know the IRS and are critical to its success."

Programmers in Series 334 jobs at the GS-13 and GS-14 levels will receive the 10
percent salary hike.

The agency will use similar bonuses next year if the money is available, Rossotti told
the committee.

The raises take effect April 1, Lamishaw said.

Rossotti told the subcommittee that the raises were necessary because private-sector
systems workers receive annual salary increases of 12 percent to 15 percent.

To be eligible for a bonus, programmers must work at IRS headquarters in Washington.
They also had to receive at least a satisfactory rating on their last performance review,
Rossotti said.

Rossotti also wants IRS to offer promotions, job security measures and training
programs to keep workers up-to-date on technology developments.

Generally, IRS has had a 3 percent to 4 percent vacancy rate for its information
systems staff. But over the last couple of years, the rate rose to about 8 percent, IRS
officials said.

"We have about 100 vacancies in our information systems organization that we have
not made a great effort to fill in the past," said John Yost, IRS' year 2000 program
manager. IRS wants to fill most entry-level positions this year, he said.

About 500 programmers slated for raises do year 2000 work, Yost said.

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