The lure of money

Pay is playing an essential role in a NASA pilot program designed to attract

information technology workers to its ranks.

The NASA administrator gave Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,

Md., a special exemption from some of the restrictive federal pay grade

requirements that make it difficult to bring young, creative computer scientists,

computational scientists, computer engineers and information systems scientists

to the center.

For instance, a recent graduate working as a software developer but

without a master's degree could be hired at a pay grade that recognizes

his or her merit and experience, said Milton Halem, assistant director for

Information Sciences and chief information officer at Goddard.

"If we can show they have certain skills or capabilities, we can offer

them positions at different grade levels," he said. "This is one of the

tools that allows us to go after very qualified people and give them the

grade levels that match their salaries" in the private sector.

Computer scientists with bachelor's degrees are being offered private-sector

jobs that pay $45,000 to $50,000. Meanwhile, a comparable-level job in the

government pays $35,000.

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