Ready, set, hike IT pay

Ready, set, hike IT pay

Thomas R. Temin

'Show me the money' is one of the more vulgar expressions of recent years, even though it expresses many people's most basic concern. Crass as it sounds, though, information technology workers and managers in the federal government might be tempted to utter that very expression, given how valuable their bosses say they are.

Thus it was disappointing to hear that the Chief Information Officers Council tabled its proposal for establishing a separate salary schedule for IT workers [GCN, July 5, Page 1]. Some members of the council said they still believe enhanced pay for IT workers is needed and justified. But the council as a group didn't want to back the Office of Personnel Management into a corner where it would have to either rebuff the council outright or help sell the difficult project to lawmakers.

Who knows? With so many lawmakers scrambling to earn the sobriquet of high-tech congressman, perhaps a technology pay bill might have a chance.

Let's review a few facts. The government's ranks of technical employees have thinned. This has coincided with an unprecedented economic boom, sparked in part by the Internet and its nearly magic power to produce instant wealth.

Both the executive and legislative branches have, throughout this period, pushed the bureaucracy to do more with IT. That takes the right people. Getting the right people requires competitive salaries because both industry and government face a demand for technical talent.

It's also true that people don't work for money alone. The environment, challenging work, and the respect of peers and supervisors all play a role in keeping people. Certainly, before barging into OPM and the halls of Congress to demand more money for IT people, agency brass should ask themselves if they're providing a work experience that, all else being equal, would retain the best people.

The government cannot offer stock options, signing bonuses or Starbucks coffee in the lunchroom. It can't even let people keep frequent flyer miles. Yet public service has its own rewards. If the spoils of boom corporate times aren't among them, at least basic pay parity can be'and the CIO Council should fight for it.

Thomas R. Temin

Editorial director


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