Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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5/21/2014
09:06 AM
Wyatt Kash
Wyatt Kash
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Federal IT Salaries Strong, But Trouble Looms

Government IT still pays better than other industries. But after three years of belt-tightening, half of federal IT employees are looking for a new job, InformationWeek salary survey shows.

Most Wasteful Government IT Projects Of 2013
Most Wasteful Government IT Projects Of 2013
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

It should come as no surprise that a three-year salary freeze has exacted a deepening toll on federal IT pros. InformationWeek's 17th annual survey of IT managers and staff reveals new labor strains among federal employees, as reductions in training and benefits continue to erode the job satisfaction of IT workers, even as salaries began moving upward again.

The findings are part of a nationwide InformationWeek study examining salary, work satisfaction, and job security trends across 30 US industries, including federal, state and local government sectors. The full results of the study are being published in a series of articles this week.

For federal IT employees, including contractors working on government projects, salaries and overall cash compensation began moving upward for the first time in three years. Among the 532 federal IT employees -- 204 IT managers and 328 IT staff -- surveyed this past February, 46% of federal IT managers and 52% of IT staffers say they received a raise in the past year.

[How does your salary stack up? Get the big picture: IT Salary Survey 2014: Benchmark Your Pay.]

However, more than a quarter reported having fewer training opportunities than in the past 12 months, and roughly 20% said their benefits had been cut, reflecting the intense budget pressures agencies continue to face and resulting in another year in which job satisfaction figures took a dive.

If there's a silver lining in this year's annual salary figures, it's that the federal government still pays well above other industries. Among 11,662 IT pros surveyed across 30 industries, federal IT staff employees ranked in the top five for median base salaries in 2014, at $100,000.

Table 1: IT Staff Salaries

2014 Rank US IT Staff - Salary Rank
by Industry
Base salary (median-1000s) Total compensation (median-1000s)
1 Securities and investments** $105 $117
2 Electronics $104 $109
3 IT vendors $102 $110
4 Biotech/biomedical/pharmaceutical $100 $107
5 Government (federal) $100 $101
6 Telecommunications/ISPs $96 $103
7 Consulting and business services $96 $102
8 Energy** $96 $107
9 Banking $95 $99
10 Consumer goods $94 $100
11 Media/entertainment $92 $96
12 Metals and natural resources* $90 $97
13 Insurance $90 $96
14 Financial services, other $90 $94
15 Chemicals* $90 $93
16 Utilities** $90 $95
17 Retail/e-commerce $88 $94
18 Healthcare/HMOs $87 $89
19 Hospitality/travel $83 $90
20 Logistics/transportation $82 $85
21 Manufacturing/industrial (noncomputer) $81 $85
22 Distribution $80 $83
23 Food/beverage $75 $79
24 Construction/engineering $75 $78
25 Government (local) $72 $72
26 Real estate* $70 $77
27 Government (state) $70 $70
28 Nonprofit $65 $66
29 Education (college, university) $65 $66
30 Education (K-12) $60 $60
* Low base, use with caution
** Rounded up to nearest thousand
Data: InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey of 11,662 IT professionals, February 2014

Nevertheless, working for Uncle Sam has been especially challenging for IT employees, with agencies under the gun to cut costs and workers tasked

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Wyatt Kash is a former Editor of InformationWeek Government, and currently VP for Content Strategy at ScoopMedia. He has covered government IT and technology trends since 2004, as Editor-in-Chief of Government Computer News and Defense Systems (owned by The Washington Post ... View Full Bio
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WKash
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WKash,
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5/21/2014 | 1:38:58 PM
Re: Incentives
The biggest concern I have is government's growing reliance on LPTA (Lowest Price Technically Acceptable) contracts, which requires agencies to accept low ball bids for work that on paper looks doable, but everyone knows is a trainwreck in the making.  LPTAs put agencies in a precarious place --  and forces qualified contractors to think twice about taking on IT projects, or else consider hiring low-priced talent to make the numbers work.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
5/21/2014 | 1:23:55 PM
Incentives
It appears as if many workers are being demoralized by the prospect of less incentives over time. And surely there are a number of private sector jobs in the D.C. that are looking for technical talent. 

Therein lies one problem that I don't think many think about: If there are less incentives for government jobs, then workers will go to the private sector.

And if the government cannot fill those jobs, they will have to use private sector contractors. Which will be more expensive anyways, so it makes little sense to be cutting things that ultimately there are workarounds for. 
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