Pay may not be answer for tech worker needs

klunney@govexec.com

Pay is not the only incentive agencies can use to draw technology workers into the government, public and private sector leaders said Wednesday.

Gloria Parker, chief information officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, moderated a discussion at the FOSE government technology conference comparing and contrasting the compensation packages and overall work environments of IT professionals in both government and industry. The conference was held in Washington.

By law, the federal government operates on an incremental pay scale based on seniority. The pay scale makes it difficult for agencies to offer the high salaries available in the private industry to skilled IT professionals-not to mention stock options.

Rick Distasio, vice president of Compaq Federal, said that although attractive salaries were important in landing recruits, IT professionals are happiest overall when they are learning new skills and problem-solving on the job. He said meaningful work coupled with individual recognition for successes were just as, if not more, important than high pay.

The federal government is working on improving compensation, benefits, training and education, and quality of life issues to level the playing field between the public and private sectors.

Annual pay increases for federal employees, a plan to make health premiums non-taxable, proposals to pay back IT employees' student loans, expansion of telecommuting programs, and a long-term plan to revamp the basic pay structure within the federal government were mentioned as possible solutions to IT workforce problems.

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