Wage and price inflation, along with strong competition from the private sector, has been cutting into the Federal government’s ability to hire fresh IT talent, but at least one agency is looking forward to some near-term help on the salary front to tilt the table more in government’s favor.

At the Women Tech Leaders Event hosted by GovCIO on April 13, Devon Beard, director of people operations at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), explained her agency is looking forward to being able to bump up IT salaries significantly, and soon.

“That’s definitely a huge challenge,” Beard said. “We’ve been sharing a partnership with OPM, a special salary rate that we’re hoping to implement this year in the third quarter for the 2210 series, and it will address the pay gap depending on the locality up to 60 percent,” she said.

The Federal government’s 2210 – Information Technology Management Series designation covers a wide range of positions involved with various aspects of IT – including cybersecurity, data management, customer support, systems administration, and analysis.

Beard added that achieving a higher retention rate in the IT workforce also means that agencies need to focus on the whole package of benefits to employees.

“We don’t just work here to get a check,” she said. “You have to fill it deeper, and that comes into benefit programs, child subsidy programs, benefits as far as health care … We’re not just here to support them in their professional development, we’re here to support the human being behind that.”

During the same panel discussion, Melissa Vice, director of vulnerability disclosure program (VDP) at the Department of Defense (DoD), discussed the need to specialize the message and mission of the agency to excite potential employees and showcase unique opportunities that spring from serving with a government agency.

“You have a lot of education opportunities within the U.S. government that I don’t think they realize,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity that probably doesn’t get blasted out, but I can say that our organization really tries to look at every little aspect of technology and opportunities within that particular agency and put it out there for folks to see.”

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.