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GCHQ wants to enlarge 'experienced' specialists' packages

Spooks offer 'retention payments' to keep online security experts

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GCHQ is offering its expert tech employees bonuses to prevent more staff from leaving for high-tech companies such as Google and Microsoft.

The service said that it has a government approved system of offering both recruitment and/or retention payments to keep internet security specialists. GCHQ said that it seeks to make the overall package of pay, pension, leave and flexible working as competitive as possible, but added that it also needs to demonstrate value for money for the taxpayer.

A spokesman for GCHQ told GGC that it does not comment on individual amounts, but said that reports that the sums amounted to "tens of thousands of pounds" were inaccurate.

"We are never likely to be able to compete with high-tech companies on salary alone. We clearly value our staff and their contribution to our unique mission in support of the UK's national security and economic wellbeing," he said.

The spokesman added that GCHQ also offers similar benefits to other specialist staff within the service.

The government has pushed hard to recruit the next generation of internet specialists, after admitting in October that it was failing to keep specialist cyber security staff. In response to the intelligence and security committee's annual report for 2010-11, the government said that "experienced internet specialists are highly prized by both government and industry" and GCHQ recognised the importance of maintaining its competitiveness in the marketplace.

"GCHQ is also considering other measures to attract and retain suitably skilled staff in greater numbers," the government said at the time.

Last month GCHQ ran an ad campaign which challenged hackers to crack a code to get an interview.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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