by Michael Goldberg

GOVERNMENT I.T. – Hero Wanted, Cheap

Jun 15, 20022 mins

“Attention CIOs: Looking for an opportunity to serve your country in a post-9/11 world? For the incredible challenge of defining IT infrastructure that will support FBI investigations into terrorism, espionage and international crimes?”

This is the ad the FBI ran in The Wall Street Journal. The $4 billion agency at the forefront of homeland defense is seeking a successor for Bob Dies, a career IBM executive who took the bureau’s top IT job in July 2000. Applications closed in April. It could take until later this summer to fill the post, the FBI says.

The description posted on makes it sound like Superman’s cape would be a good thing to bring to the interview. To qualify, the website suggests that you be a proven leader with financial management know-how. You should possess the political savvy to build coalitions. You must manage a $109 million IT upgrade and a $59 million IT security and information assurance project.

And you’ll do all that for a salary between $125,972 and $138,200 a year.

If that sounds low, that’s simply what public servants make at that level, according to the Federal Office of Personnel Management. CIOs at comparably sized companies such as MGM Mirage, the casino owner, and Hormel Foods, maker of Spam lunch meat, earn more than twice as much on average ($281,768), according to a recent CIO survey.

The kind of top-flight talent sought by the FBI would earn five or six times the government salary in a private sector job, says Robert McHale, managing director at Korn/Ferry International. McHale, who helped the FBI’s recruiting effort, says low pay didn’t stop applicants.

“Here’s an opportunity for them to give something back and to create their own legacy. So compensation has not been a major issue,” McHale says.

And, of course, they might get a badge.