17,000 Federal Employees Earned More Than $200K Last Year

See which agencies employ the federal workforce’s highest earners.

National Journal
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Eric Katz, Government Executive
Feb. 24, 2015, 4:24 a.m.

More than 16,900 fed­er­al em­ploy­ees took home in ex­cess of $200,000 in base salary in 2014, ac­cord­ing to a par­tial data­base of fed­er­al salary data.

The in­form­a­tion, com­piled by Fed­ us­ing data from the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment and oth­er agen­cies, shows the an­nu­al com­pens­a­tion for every ci­vil­ian fed­er­al work­er, save those at the De­fense De­part­ment. The num­ber of work­ers earn­ing more than $200,000 rep­res­en­ted about 1.6 per­cent of em­ploy­ees on the list and is up from about 15,000 who cleared that salary in 2013. It also makes up a slightly high­er per­cent­age of the em­ploy­ees on this list.

Most of the high earners worked as med­ic­al of­ficers at the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment. Oth­er agen­cies that re­quire a highly spe­cial­ized work­force paid sev­er­al em­ploy­ees at least $200,000; these in­cluded the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Of­fice of the Comp­troller of the Cur­rency, the Fed­er­al Hous­ing Fin­ance Agency, and the Se­cur­it­ies and Ex­change Com­mis­sion.

More than 1,600 fed­er­al em­ploy­ees cleared $300,000 in base salary last year. Just two — VA doc­tors in Pa­lo Alto, Cal­if., and Pitt­s­burgh — took in more than $400,000.

All of these em­ploy­ees are paid on sys­tems spe­cif­ic to their agency or oc­cu­pa­tion. Some of these sys­tems have much high­er pay caps than the Gen­er­al Sched­ule, which sets the salar­ies for the vast ma­jor­ity of fed­er­al em­ploy­ees and capped an­nu­al pay — be­fore ad­just­ing for loc­al­ity — at just less than $130,000 last year.

Even mem­bers of the Seni­or Ex­ec­ut­ive Ser­vice had their pay capped at $181,500 for 2014. The highest paid feds on the Ex­ec­ut­ive Sched­ule, such as de­part­ment heads and the vice pres­id­ent, earned $201,700. Deputy heads re­ceived less than $200,000.

About 73 per­cent of fed­er­al work­ers are paid on the Gen­er­al Sched­ule, while about 17 per­cent are on an agency-spe­cif­ic plan. The re­main­ing work­ers are blue-col­lar em­ploy­ees on the wage-grade pay scale, or mem­bers of the SES.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has a long his­tory of re­leas­ing the em­ploy­ment and salary data of its work­force, al­though in the past dec­ade it has sig­ni­fic­antly scaled back. In 2003, OPM began with­hold­ing all in­form­a­tion re­lated to ci­vil­ian em­ploy­ees at the De­fense De­part­ment. In 2005, it began re­dact­ing the name and oc­cu­pa­tions of many oth­er em­ploy­ees in sens­it­ive po­s­i­tions.

The data­base did not in­clude data on bo­nus pay.

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