77,000 fed­eral work­ers paid more than gov­er­nors

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

More than 77,000 fed­eral gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees through­out the coun­try, in­clud­ing com­puter op­er­a­tors, more than 5,000 air traf­fic con­trollers, 22 li­brar­i­ans and one in­te­rior de­signer, earned more than the gov­er­nors of the states in which they work.

The find­ings, from a Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice re­port re­quested by Sen. Tom Coburn, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can, were re­leased at a time when pub­lic work­ers’ salaries and ben­e­fits are un­der scrutiny across the coun­try as gov­ern­ments try to stream­line.

CRS re­viewed 2009 salary fig­ures, the most re­cent avail­able, and found 77,057 em­ploy­ees who earned more in an­nual pay than their re­spec­tive gov­er­nors. Of those work­ers, 18,351 were doc­tors, the high­est per­cent­age. The sec­ond-high­est to­tal was for 5,170 air traf­fic con­trollers, likely both front-line con­trollers and their su­per­vi­sors.

In Mary­land, 7,283 fed­eral em­ploy­ees, about 7 per­cent of all full-time fed­eral em­ploy­ees in the state, earned more than Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley’s $150,000 salary. Mary­land was topped by Colorado, which in 2009 had 10,875 em­ploy­ees who made more than the $90,000 salary of the gov­er­nor, Bill Rit­ter.

“Across Amer­ica, gov­er­nors are be­ing asked to do more with less, of­ten at lower pay than fed- eral em­ploy­ees in their states. The pay gap be­tween gov­er­nors and fed­eral em­ploy­ees should prompt Congress to take a closer look at fed­eral salaries,” Mr. Coburn said. “With our debt and deficits spi­ral­ing out of con­trol, now is the time to ask agen­cies, not just gov­er­nors, to do more with less.”

Gov­ern­ment work­ers’ salaries and ben­e­fit pack­ages have come un­der fire at the lo­cal, state and na­tional lev­els as agen­cies seek

Pres­i­dent Obama late last year pro­posed a two-year salary freeze for fed­eral work­ers, fol­low­ing on the heels of his an­nounce­ment soon af­ter he took of­fice in 2009 that he was freez­ing salaries of top White House em­ploy­ees.

Both houses of Congress voted this year to cut their own bud­gets, too.

The fed­eral Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment de­clined to com­ment on the CRS re­port’s

The Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser vice re­port said na­tion­wide there were 122 park rangers, 271 en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion spe­cial­ists, 14 chap­lains and one prison guard who earned more than their gov­er­nors. There were also 21 ar­chae­ol­o­gists, three so­ci­ol­o­gists, 48 so­cial work­ers, four food ser vice work­ers and five civil rights an­a­lysts who made more than their gov­er­nors.

places to cut.

The work­ers have dis­puted charges that they earn, on av­er­age, more than their pri­vate-sec­tor coun­ter­parts, but crit­ics point out to­tal com­pen­sa­tion, in­clud­ing health care and pen­sions.

On av­er­age, the age of the fed­eral work force is older, and thus likely to be higher paid, than those in the pri­vate sec­tor. A higher per­cent­age of fed­eral work­ers than pri­vate-sec­tor em­ploy­ees hold man­age­ment jobs. find­ings.

But Beth Moten, leg­isla­tive and po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor for the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees, the union that rep­re­sents 625,000 fed­eral em­ploy­ees, said the big­ger prob­lem is the amount of money that con­trac­tors can col­lect. She said con­trac­tors can be re­im­bursed up to $693,000 to­ward salaries for their top five ex­ec­u­tives, and even more for other em­ploy­ees do­ing gov­ern­ment work.

“So the gov­ern­ment’s pay­ing $700,000 and more for con­trac­tor salaries, and Sen. Coburn wor­ries about the pay of physi­cians who care for wounded sol­diers?” Ms. Moten said. “If those gov­er­nors want to make more money, they should ei­ther be­come con­trac­tors or try ap­ply­ing to med­i­cal school.”

Mr. Coburn asked for the re­view to use gov­er­nors’ salaries, fig­ur­ing a state’s chief ex­ec­u­tive’s pay would be a good yard- stick for top-end salaries in each state.

Cal­i­for­nia’s gov­er­nor made the high­est salary at $212,179 in 2009, though Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger did not ac­cept pay. Just 703 fed­eral work­ers in Cal­i­for­nia earned more than that level of pay, and all but 34 of them were in medicine.

Maine’s gov­er­nor, by con­trast, made the low­est salary at $70,000. CRS said 3,423 fed­eral em­ploy­ees in the state made more than that, in­clud­ing seven pipe fit­ters, and three peo­ple en­gaged in plas­tic fab­ri­ca­tion work.

For in­di­vid­ual oc­cu­pa­tions, the CRS re­port did not break down the states where they worked, so it was im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine where the one in­te­rior de­signer who made more than the gov­er­nor was em­ployed.

CRS said na­tion­wide there were 122 park rangers, 271 en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion spe­cial­ists, 14 chap­lains and one prison guard who earned more than their gov­er­nors. There were also 21 ar­chae­ol­o­gists, three so­ci­ol­o­gists, 48 so­cial work­ers, four food ser­vice work­ers and five civil rights an­a­lysts who made more than their gov­er­nors.

CRS said some lo­cales are likely to have a higher con­cen­tra­tion of well-paid em­ploy­ees. For ex­am­ple, 942 of the med­i­cal and pub­lic health work­ers who made more than their gov­er­nors were from Ge­or­gia, the lo­ca­tion of the fed­eral Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Air traf­fic con­trollers, who were the sec­ond-big­gest group to get salaries higher than their gov­er­nors, also gen­er­ally have high salaries. That cat­e­gory likely in­cludes both front-line con­trollers and their su­per­vi­sors. The Bu­reau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics said the me­dian salary for an air traf­fic con­troller in May 2008 was $111,870, while the top 10 per­cent earned $161,010 or more a year.

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