GovBytes: Are Government CIOs Underpaid?

How much is a good CIO worth to a government agency?

Perhaps more than they’re currently getting paid, it turns out. According to a story by Colin Wood at Government Technology, public-sector CIOs endure far more scrutiny than their private-sector colleagues, not to mention exponentially more red tape that makes getting the job done harder than it could be. Yet a new study shows they’re also on the wrong end of a substantial pay disparity — earning just two-thirds, on average, of what industry CIOs take in.

The average salary of a state CIO is $130,552, according to a survey released biannually by NASCIO. This figure is more than three times as much as the average U.S. wage, so it’s not as if state CIOs are hurting compared to the average American. But state CIOs make about one-third less than their private-sector counterparts who, according to NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson, make nearly $190,000 a year.

Government CIO Salaries Lag Behind, Contribute to Turnover

It seems clear those who serve as public-sector CIOs could be doing better for themselves financially if they left government. And with the emphasis on Gov 2.0 in recent years, is there a more important time than now for states, localities and federal organizations to have top-notch talent leading on tech-related issues? It certainly seems possible that government bodies are going to have to rethink their modes of compensating their chief information officers or risk falling helplessly behind the times.

Still, with federal workers suffering pay and hiring freezes, and state and local governments struggling just to make ends meet, one could be forgiven for questioning whether gov execs already bringing home six figures truly need raises. After all, there are non-monetary benefits to working for government, like job security and health care coverage, that exist specifically in order to off-set just such lower salaries.

Do you think government CIOs should earn more than they do?


“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply