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1/10/2005
09:56 AM
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New Math: D.C. Style

The federal government has it's own type of math, at least when it comes to IT salaries.

The federal government has it's own type of math, at least when it comes to IT salaries.The feds pay a bonus for specialized skills, such as IT. Because it had a hard time finding and retaining qualified techies, the government in 2001 moved about half of its IT employees to a special-rate salary schedule that gave them at the time 7% to 33% pay raises.

In addition, the government gives federal workers in some regions, including Washington, fatter paychecks to cover higher cost-of-living expenses than those performing the same jobs but work in less pricey locales. But specialized workers don't get both pay differentials.

According to Stephen Barr's Federal Diary column in The Washington Post, some federal high-tech workers don't think the government's 2005 pay tables add up. For example, he writes, the tables show a special rate salary range of $62,354 to $81,057 for General Schedule 12 technology employees in the Washington area. The rate for a rank-and-file GS-12 employee is a few hundred dollars higher, ranging from $62,886 to $81,747. Barr quoted an IT specialist at the National Park Service as asking: "What kind of math is this?" Added an Agriculture Department technology specialist, "Obviously, I do not want to be labeled as 'special' if this is the case."

The tech specialists needn't worry, however. Federal law provides the special-rate employees will receive the higher salary. That means G12 workers in Washington are getting a 3.7%, not 2.5%, salary hike this year.

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