We’ve previously reported that the lure of Microsoft and Google is proving too much for UK intelligence staff, and now it seems the Government is approving bonuses and payouts to persuade key members of staff not to leave their jobs at Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ).
As This is Gloucestershire reports, it seems the Government is now pulling out all the stops to prevent its cyber spies from jumping ship, though it’s thought that some consultants are already raking in average salaries of £145,000, with permanent staff believed to be on an average of £25,000 a year. The figures, released to MPs last month, showed that there were 297 “time-hire” contractors brought in throughout 2011, to participate in surveillance operations to combat cyber attacks. Politicians also wanted to know why the fees were so exorbitant when GCHQ had already been told to take a 11% budget cut.
The UK Cabinet Office confirmed that bonuses paid out to key staff have been given the green light, as it strives to stop a mass exodus of staff to the private sector.
Whilst the actual bonus figures aren’t yet known, the Cabinet Office noted that GCHQ was also considering “other measures to attract and retain suitably skilled staff in greater numbers”, adding:
“Experienced internet specialists are highly prized by both Government and industry, and GCHQ recognises that it therefore needs to maintain its competitiveness in the marketplace.”
As we reported at the time, GCHQ director Iain Lobban told MPs in July last year that he was struggling to recruit and retain key staff, saying:
“I can’t compete with their salaries. Month-on-month, we are losing whizzes who will basically say, ‘I’m sorry, I am going to take three times the salary’.”