The government is openly recruiting entry-level analyst/programmers to its information technology arm starting today, the first time since 1998 that it has done so at that rank. Chief government information officer Jeremy Godfrey said it needed to maintain the IT workforce in light of significant expansion in IT projects in recent years. The government's IT expenditure has risen in the past three years from HK$3.9 million to an estimated HK$5.8 million. Godfrey said it was looking for people with the potential to take up senior IT management roles - with career potential up to directorate rank - and their duties would not be solely in the technical field. 'They will help to develop long-term IT strategies in various government departments,' he said. 'We want to find candidates who care about how IT can be used to make people better off.' The civil service vacancies, in the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, are expected to attract fresh graduates, offering a monthly salary package of HK$24,120 for an IT degree graduate. Graduates from other disciplines can also apply, though for lower pay. According to the department's plan, the recruits may be deployed at IT units around the government, or be involved in forthcoming big IT projects such as the e-health system, an electronic system that the government hopes will help with patients' records. Some recruits may also work on areas to enhance data security. Godfrey said it was expecting keen competition for the vacancies. Successful applicants are expected to assume their duties in the middle of next year. The application period closes at the end of this month.