Are NSA engineers better than engieers at Microsoft?
NSA is the US government department which takes care of the information and data security of US. It's said to be one of the largest of U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget. There are many excellent engineers working on information and data security and developing algorithms and software help US government to collect intelligence information from all around the world. Many people may be curious about whether NSA has better engineers than IT companies like Microsoft and Google?
An engineer,, who worked at both NSA and Microsoft gave his opinions on this. It's not necessary that NSA engineers are better. These two are two different kinds of organizations. NSA is a government organization which takes the safety of the country as its top priority while Microsoft is a companies which has the priority of making money. Below are some reasons given by
- Mid- and late-career salaries for top engineers are much lower. Not everyone cares about money, but people who do leave for private industry. Also, those in private industry rarely move to the government because they don't want to take a pay cut.
- Bad people are nearly impossible to fire. This brings down the average and creates resentment among top performers, further driving them to leave.
- Many managers are career bureaucrats and do not have technical skills. This demoralizes engineers when their good work is not recognized, not supported, or in some cases deliberately sabotaged because their managers don't understand it.
- Decisions are made based on politics rather than profit. This can be frustrating for engineers because it is harder to objectively measure the merits of a project. So, inferior projects with powerful supporters are more likely to win than in private industry.
- There is a ton of red tape that makes it hard to do your job. As a small example, the process for importing open-source software from the Internet to a classified network is painfully labyrinthine.
But we cannot deny that there are still lots of excellent engineers in NSA. Many people are willing to work for the government because they want to be cool, want to serve the country and travel around the world as well. It's an honor for these people which cannot be measured by money itself.