The Department of Veterans Affairs has increased the salaries of its technology and cybersecurity employees by an average of 17% in a bid to boost its ability to hire private sector talent.
In a statement last week announcing its implementation of a new special salary rate, the department said the pay bump will take effect starting Aug. 4.
The VA has increased the salaries of its tech workers as agencies across the federal government work to bring fresh technology and cyber talent into government. Last July, the department requested approval for the special salary rate from the Office of Personnel Management, which is responsible for setting federal government pay policy.
The VA is the first agency to implement the pay rate, which applies to IT workers that fall under OPM’s 2210 occupational series. A full list of the salary rate tables can be found here.
U.S. civilian agencies have sought to follow the lead of the Department of Homeland Security in finding new ways to hire and manage cybersecurity professionals outside of traditional civil service requirements.
In 2021, that agency created a Cybersecurity Service as part of its Cyber Talent Management System, through which staff can be hired in qualified positions – excepted service roles with distinct qualification requirements and special pay flexibility.
News of the pay scale came ahead of a new National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, which was launched Monday by the Biden administration. That strategy intends to provide a comprehensive approach to address both immediate and long-term public and private sector cyber workforce needs.
According to cybersecurity website CyberSeek, which is funded by the Department of Commerce, there are currently 663,434 cybersecurity job openings nationwide. This figure includes job openings across both the private and public sector.
Special salary rates are approved by OPM for certain government occupations and in locations where it is deemed competitive and difficult for agencies to recruit and retain employees.