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British intelligence could not hire technical experts, because Google and Facebook pay 4-5 times more
Material posted: Publication date: 30-12-2017
British intelligence Agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ) is facing serious problems with recruitment and retention of staff — namely, specialists in computer security. Now the demand for such personnel is especially high. In the report, GCHQ over the last fiscal year (pdf) stated that, in 2015-2016, the secret service has spent on cyber operations 24% of its budget is the biggest item of expenditure in the scouts. It is followed by fighting terrorism (counterterrorist operation) — 23% of the budget. That is, information security is spending more resources than the fight against terrorism. These are the realities of the 21st century.

On the 40th page of the report States that in recent years, the GCHQ "can not cope with the recruitment and retention of suitable and sufficient personnel for staffing of vacancies for technical specialists, as the Agency will inevitably have to compete with large technology companies that pay much more."

In 2013, GCHQ reported that implemented a "more flexible scheme of compensation packages for technical professionals". Now the government has requested information on how stuck this scheme over the years and how it was effective. Representatives of GCHQ said that "the scheme is effective up to a certain limit. It prevents the outflow of specialists from certain areas at certain stages of their career", but still the secret service continues to lose personnel due to lower wages.

We can assume that a similar problem with technicians is observed in the Russian special services, which cannot compete on salaries with the commercial companies.

"We are not able to compete with four-, a five-fold difference in the wages they receive there," said the report written from the transcript of the oral statement by the representative of GCHQ before a parliamentary Committee on intelligence and security, on 8 December 2016. He also added that the intelligence agencies probably "never be able to compete purely on the amount of payment". However, GCHQ is optimistic about the possibility of hiring new talent because for many specialists the experience of such an organization outweigh the commercial benefit of working in companies like Google and Facebook, not to mention the various startups who are developing all sorts of frivolous things in favor of the General public. Some people think that you cannot waste your talent on such a pointless job and choose a career in intelligence and national security, where they work on a really important, unique designs.

"We are competitive on our mission, valuable work, interesting work, variety of tasks, — said the representative of GCHQ. — If you are a pure mathematician, we are the largest employer of pure mathematicians in the UK. The transition in this kind of a [commercial] company may result in disappointment. Very good pay, but rather dull work... You can go and become an activist in the city, and make a fortune, and apply math, but it's nothing compared to how we use math in here".

To increase the attractiveness of long-term work at GCHQ in the intelligence services has developed a special "career path" for technical professionals. This required including to reassign some of the roles of high-ranking chiefs. Possibly, now the technical team can apply for these roles.

GCHQ is gradually adapting to the new realities and becomes accustomed to the idea that it is impossible to keep all the state organization. So now the arrangements for maintaining contact with former employees whose services special services may periodically use after their dismissal. For example, in the framework of the contract: "In the past, our culture assumed that when a person leaves the organization... we never contact him again or allow him to pass into the building. I think we have to change this... We can't completely resist the flow... and of course we want people out in the private sector and improved the information security industry, for example, in the UK. So losses are not losses if we get good professionals from the ranks of the organization, and we receive. So I think we have slightly changed our attitude and not consider care of every person as a giant loss."

However, the lack of staff still makes itself felt, so now GCHQ is forced to translate a work on "temporary contracts" with foreign firms. And this is quite dangerous, as it is known in history, Edward Snowden, who worked on contract for the NSA. Over the past year in the payment of temporary contracts GCHQ has allocated 71 million pounds.

In 2016, the GCHQ has hired 22% fewer employees than planned (500 instead of 660), but in the next few years is going to increase the staff by 14% and bring it to 6639 person by March 2020.


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