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Top UK.gov CIOs dealt string of pay cuts and freezes

Purses and wallets tightened over past four years

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A number of major Whitehall departments have slashed their CIO salaries since 2008, according to central government figures.

The salary of the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) CIO, a job previously held by Joe Harley before his retirement at the end of March, was £265,000-£270,000 in 2008-09. By 2011, that figure had dropped to £225,000-£229,999.

Other falls in CIO pay since 2008 were seen at the Department for International Development, where the salary band decreased from £80,000-£84,000 in 2008-09 to £75,000-£79,999 from November 2011, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where CIO pay was £135,000-£140,000 in 2009-10, dropping to £120,000-£124,999 in November 2011.

The figures were published in response to freedom of information requests by Guardian Government Computing. Of the 16 departments questioned, eight reported CIO salaries either falling or remaining static in recent years.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which paid its CIO the lowest salary of the departments that responded, also saw a decrease in the range of CIO pay: from £60,000-£65,000 in 2008-09 to its current rate of £55,000-£60,000.

The Department for Transport (DfT) also made salary cuts: its 2008-09 range was £145,000-£150,000, falling to £90,000-£95,000 in 2011. The DfT's CIO role is combined with other responsibilities within the organisation, with the current CIO also working as managing director of motoring services.

The biggest fall in CIO pay came at the Cabinet Office, which slashed the salary band by more than half since 2008. Its CIO pay scale was £185,000-£190,000 in 2008-09, compared to £85,000-£90,000 in December 2011.

The Cabinet Office said that this drop in salary was due to the dual nature of the job, as in both 2008-09 and 2011 the Cabinet Office CIO also held another CIO position within the public sector. In 2008-09, the incumbent acted as both the government and Cabinet Office CIO, but from 2009-10 to December 2011, the holder of the post was deputy government CIO as well as Cabinet Office CIO, accounting for the decrease in pay, a spokeswoman for the department said.

The current government CIO, Andy Nelson, still holds a dual role, as CIO for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). His salary is paid by the MoJ rather than the Cabinet Office, on a band of between £160,000-£164,000 at the end of 2011. The MoJ did not provide a salary band for 2008-09.

HM Treasury reported no change in its CIO salary band over the four years, with pay remaining at £58,200-£117,800 since 2008. The Department for Education's CIO salary band has also been static at £135,000-£139,999 over the period.

Among the departments that provided like for like 2008-9 and 2011 figures, CIO salaries have fallen by 7% on average.

Elsewhere, several departments reported their CIO pay bands have risen slightly over the last four years:

  • The Department for Energy and Climate Change saw the salary bracket of its CIO inch up from £75,000-£79,999 in 2008 to £85,000-£89,999 in 2011.
  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills upped the pay scale of its CIO from £95,000-£99,999 in 2009, to £100,000-£104,999 in 2012.
  • The Department for Communities and Local Government slightly increased its CIO pay band over the last four years from £57,300-£116,000 to £58,200-£117,750.
  • The Ministry of Defence CIO pay band has also remained fairly steady, going from £105,000-£109,999 in 2008-09 to £110,000-£114,999 in 2011-12.

The Department of Health provided a wide salary band for 2008-09 of £81,600-£160,000. At the time this post was held by Christine Connelly, who was solely CIO. By the end of 2011 the salary range had increased to £200,000-£204,999, as the CIO role was taken on by Katie Davis, who was also acting as the director general and managing director of NHS informatics.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs revealed that its CIO post was filled by a consultant in 2008-09 and 2009-10, but did not disclose the salary for this period. However, the CIO pay for 2010-11 and 2011-12 was £85,000-£89,000.

The Home Office did not provide the 2008-09 salary of its CIO, but disclosed that Robin Pape's pay stood at £110,000-£114,999 for 2011.

According to Adam Thilthorpe, director of professionalism at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, there is an increasing need to retain quality CIOs, the "delivery agent of policy", at central government level - potentially reflecting why some salary bands have remained steady over the last four years in the face of large cuts to the sector.

"I think CIOs are going to be critical for the UK government to be able to deliver on promises that are made from a policy point of view. Technology, ICT and information are so embedded and ubiquitous across all central government departments, you can see that not only in the world of opportunity, but also in the [online] threat environment," he told Guardian Government Computing.

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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