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That's what's happening now. According to Foote, CIOs are taking advantage of the economic climate to stop handing out big raises and bonuses to inexperienced staff or those whose skills sets are not well-matched to high-priority technology projects. Meanwhile, companies are redirecting their bonus pool to proven performers, and tying these rewards much more to team or project performance rather than to individual performance. Consider the numbers. In the first quarter of 2001, companies reined in base pay to a slight 0.9 percent increase, and started paying less for many networking, operating systems, ERP and database skills, specifically TCP/IP, Microsoft NT Server, Linux, Oracle DB, DB2, SAP and Siebel. The median bonus paid for these skills declined overall by 3 percent between the fourth quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001. However, variable pay such as bonuses and incentives increased by 3.1 percent of base pay, while pay premiums for workers who've earned Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and networking certifications increased by 11.4 percent overall, and as much as 2 percent to 5 percent of base pay for workers most in demand. In short, CIOs are rewarding IT managers and staff who are successfully completing the key projects that can make or break a CIO's reputation.