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How information technology is changing the landscape for federal employees.

Bonuses for Federal Tech Workers?

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With President Obama’s reelection, federal workers are less likely to face steep cuts to their pay and benefits. Still, with the looming fiscal cliff, it’s unlikely that federal employee pay and benefits won't be involved.

In fact, an analysis released last week by the Congressional Budget Office noted several choices lawmakers have in reining in the government’s current trillion-dollar deficit, including reducing the annual across-the-board pay increase for feds or decreasing the government’s contribution to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Feds are currently under an extension of a two-year freeze to across-the-board pay raises until April at the earliest, provided Congress passes a budget. Fortunately, that pay freeze has not affected other forms of pay for feds, including within-grade increases, promotions, performance awards and bonuses. And that’s a good thing, considering the majority of tech workers in the private sector are expecting to see a bonus by year’s end.

According to this month’s issue of the Dice Report, 37 percent of technology professionals are expecting to see an increase in their bonus this year, while one-third (33 percent) project their bonus will be roughly the same as last year. Eighteen percent said they expect a decrease in their bonus this year, while 12 percent project they will receive no bonus at all, Dice found.

When it comes to receiving a bonus, having experience is key. For example, the key threshold for receiving a bonus is six years of experience, after which 50 percent of tech professionals said they were bonus-eligible.

Unlike the federal government, where bonuses are often determined based on an individual employee’s performance, private sector IT pros seem to be looking beyond that, Dice found. For example, many IT pros surveyed said they expect their company’s performance to influence their compensation. In fact, 16 percent of tech pros expecting a bigger bonus this year believe that switching companies was primarily responsible for the increase.

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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