No Growth in Federal IT Pay

Researchers surveyed more than 700 tech staffers and managers.

The total compensation package for federal IT employees has stayed flat or actually decreased thanks to the two-year salary freeze for federal workers, according to a new survey by InformationWeek.

The survey of 480 federal IT staffers and 253 federal IT managers found that average total compensation for federal IT staff is flat, at $97,000, while federal IT management actually saw a decrease in average total compensation, down 4 percent to $120,000, from $125,000 last year.

Despite those grim figures, however, federal IT staff and management are still making more than their private sector counterparts, the survey found. Total compensation for private sector IT staffers is $90,000, and for private sector IT managers is $116,000, the survey found. “That’s also higher than state and local governments, which are among the least-lucrative sectors for IT pros,” according to the survey.

It’s important to note that the two-year pay freeze instituted by President Obama in 2010 did not affect pay increases related to promotions, step increases or bonuses. Even so, neither IT staff nor IT managers saw increases in base salary or total compensation last year, the survey found.

In addition to the two-year pay freeze, the Office of Personnel Management in 2011 placed a cap on performance-based bonuses at 5 percent of base salary for senior employees and 1 percent for others, and asked agencies to only award step increases to employees who meet certain performance standards. Fifty-six percent of federal IT staff and 69 percent of IT managers said they expect to receive a bonus this year, however, up 8 percent and 12 percent, respectively, since last year. About three-quarters of respondents said they expect these bonuses to be awarded based on good performance, the survey found.

Still, despite flat salaries, overall satisfaction with pay among federal IT staff and managers remains high. Seventy percent of federal IT staff and 71 percent of IT managers are satisfied or very satisfied with compensation this year, compared to 71 percent and 82 percent, respectively, last year, the survey found.

Overall, job satisfaction among federal IT staff and managers also has remained high, though the number of respondents who say they are very satisfied dropped a few percentage points since last year. Federal IT workers said they care most about base pay, job stability, a flexible work schedule, benefits and challenging work.