The US government has announced that it will raise the salaries of its technology workers by up to 33% in a bid to compete with the private sector.
The wage increases will affect 33,000 federal staff and take effect from 1 January 2001.
The move is aimed at driving recruitment and retention of young IT workers.
There are regional variations in the new salary levels, so government IT staff in recruitment hotspots such as San Francisco will be paid $3,000-$7,000 more than their counterparts in St Louis or Pittsburgh.
The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) estimates that its starting salaries are currently about $12,000 less than in private companies and the gap can be as much as $20,000 in specialised jobs.
The salary rises range from between 7% and 33% - entry-level workers making $35,000-$46,000 could see their annual salaries jump by $10,000.
The OPM said a key factor in the wage hike was concern over the fact that under-35s accounted for just 10% of its high-tech workforce in March, while 55% were 45 or older.
"I am very excited about our prospects for competing with other employers for top graduates in computer science. I think we will even be able to entice some current, non-federal employees to give public service a try," said OPM director Janice Lachance.