by Martin Veitch

Are the ‘Lucky 7’ state CIOs earning more than the PM overpaid?

May 31, 2010

My rightly esteemed fellow-employee Anh Nguyen has written an interesting news story on Computerworld today, highlighting the point that seven government IT directors are paid more than the PM’s salary.

Of course, to you and me — a hack toiling away for a modest stipend at the modern coalface that is the media — the sums are enormous, but it’s a fools’ game (one that Anh declines to join) to stand on the moral high ground, looking down and denouncing those who accept those sums. It’s also problematic to suggest that the salaries themselves are over the top because leading CIOs, like most of us, compete in an open market. This is an old problem: when Alan Shearer was transferred from Blackburn Rovers to mighty Newcastle United the fee of £15m was ridiculed by one newspaper that compared the number of nurses that could have been employed. But the newspaper was, of course, comparing apples with pears.

Your salary is your report card in life said former AMD CEO Jerry Sanders, so good luck to those who make the big numbers. Money is a wonderful thing and the bonuses of the private sector still see CIOs in businesses sprinting ahead in many cases and without having to deal with the prying (though legitimate) interest of the rest of us.

Are the current state rewards more than competitive? Perhaps so juding by the comments of some private-sector CIOs, but my hunch is that they are specks of dust when compared to less useful functions in the penumbral, occasionally surreal area of shadow consulting where even the watchers are being watched.

We want great state CIOs and we want them to work under strict governance frameworks — it all adds up. And you know what happens if you pay peanuts.