Do CIOs Face Salary Caps?

Do you make $24 million a year? No? Well, isn’t it good to know there are IT experts who do? It’s nice to have something to aspire to.

BusinessWeek has just released its list of the five most highly paid CIOs, and the $24 million man turns out to be Randall Mott, CIO of Hewlett-Packard. His base salary is actually only $690,000, but all the perks, bonuses, and options get his compensation into nosebleed territory.

Meanwhile, the mean salary of IT executives at large corporations is a more humble $142,914, so things do vary widely. And it’s all chump change compared to the $104 million that Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jah took home last year.

Other companies with high CIO pay packages are BestBuy ($9.8 million), State Street ($8.82 million), American Express ($4.69 million), and JC Penney ($3.6 million).

Why is this of particular interest now? Because the federal government is making lots of noise about compensation caps on executive salaries in companies in which the government now holds a stake (think banks and GM). Could this trend expand into the mainstream? Could the appointment of President Obama’s "compensation czar" lead to a future of wage controls across the board? Such a prospect has free market boosters like The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page in a tizzy.

Stay tuned.

–Don Willmott