Raise gets mixed reviews
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Nov 12, 2000
The Office of Personnel Management's plan to raise the salaries of about
33,000 information technology workers in government has drawn both praise
and disappointment from employees.
Earlier this month, OPM said federal IT workers would receive a pay
hike ranging from 7 percent to 33 percent starting in January. OPM plans
to give the biggest raises to IT workers at the lower, entry- level grades
because that is where agencies say they are having the most trouble recruiting
workers. The pay raise also should go a long way in helping agencies retain
IT workers tempted to move to the private sector, OPM said.
Although many view the pay raise as a significant step when it comes
to recruiting, some say it may not be as effective when it comes to retaining
A computer specialist in government, Louis Jilly Jr., accepted a promotion
to a GS-13 two months ago. "If a GS-12 gets only a 12.5 percent special
salary increase, the GS-12 and I will be at the same level of compensation,"
he said. "If I can find one of those positions that'll get the 33 percent
increase, I'll take that job — more money and less aggravation for me, for
OPM said it will continue to monitor the staffing situation "to determine
whether special rates should be expanded" above GS-12 and encouraged agencies
to use recruitment and relocation bonuses and other available tools. Meanwhile,
if agencies are experiencing problems with other IT occupations, they may
ask OPM to grant special salary rates.
Another IT professional said he also will miss out on the pay raise
because he is classified as a computer assistant. "I believe that many people
are working in the wrong classification because of their training," he said.
Fred Thompson, program manager for IT workforce improvement at the Treasury
Department, said employees who feel they are doing mostly IT work but are
not classified as an IT worker can ask for an audit to place them in another
series. "If their personnel office agrees, then they would get the raise,"
Ira Hobbs, deputy chief information officer at the Agriculture Department
and the co-chairman of the CIO Council's Federal IT Workforce Committee,
agreed that this is an important first move. "We see this as a recruiting
tool [to use] in the areas where we're most vulnerable," Hobbs said.
However, when it comes to retention, it may not be enough to persuade
IT employees at the higher levels to stay. Other issues, such as career
development, "really do have a lot more to do with retention than salary,"