As Silicon Valley companies continue to lay off thousands of tech workers, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is actively recruiting many of those facing layoffs – and may soon be able to pay them a salary more comparable to private sector levels.
VA Chief Information Officer (CIO) Kurt DelBene told reporters today that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is nearing “final approval” on a government-wide Special Salary Rate (SSR), which would bump tech salaries up to be “more commensurate with what’s in the private sector.”
DelBene said the target for the final approval of the SSR is “very early in the new year,” and the VA is hoping for it to cross the finish line in January.
“They are equally enthusiastic as we are to get it over the finish line,” DelBene said of OPM. “We don’t see it becoming an issue. So, excited about that. I mean, if you think about the administration and having a tech agenda, this would be high on their list of things to do.”
The VA was one of the primary proposers of the SSR, but if approved, it would have a government-wide impact for all Federal employees that fall under the 2210-Information Technology Management occupational series.
If the SSR is approved, DelBene explained each department would be able to decide if they’re going to adopt the SSR, and how they would implement it. The CIO said the VA is “going for it, obviously.”
DelBene said he hopes the SSR will address a longstanding issue that has been a “blocker” for people thinking about making a career move to the VA.
“We don’t think it needs to be a compromise that you make in terms of compensation. We don’t think that it should be a compromise, and we’re doing the right things to make that happen,” DelBene said.
“I think the VA is a fantastic place for tech folks to consider a change in career because there’s not another place that has a more important mission,” he added. “The sheer scale and the transformation that we’re undergoing makes this a fantastic place to sink your teeth into and really make an impact.”
The VA is actively hiring for over a thousand tech jobs, and DelBene made a point to note that the VA is also “highly flexible” with hybrid work and remote work.
For those in the tech industry who are interested in coming to work for the VA, Chief Technology Officer Charles Worthington said the VA has set up a specific email inbox to walk them through the government hiring process at OITcareers@va.gov.