NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Researchers Abandoning Government For Private Sector

September 19, 2000

The lure of the private sector and its many start-up companies is so strong that government labs are losing their best and brightest in growing numbers.

  • Senior scientists making $90,000 at a government research laboratory can go to private companies and increase their salaries by 50 percent -- with lucrative stock-options thrown in.
  • The annual attrition rate at major government research centers, traditionally in the 4 percent range, has recently been in double digits.
  • Many administrators fear the departures could erode the quality of government-sponsored technical and scientific research over the next several years -- including some work affecting national security.
  • To counter the exodus, some laboratories are offering signing bonuses, as well as beginning to consider housing assistance.

While the turnover rate among private concerns can approach 25 percent a year, that is little consolation to administrators of government labs.

Source: Katie Hafner, "Technology Boom Too Tempting for Many Government Scientists," New York Times, September 19, 2000.


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