Thou­sands of feds earn more than gov­er­nors

House votes to raise pay rate even more

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Fed­eral em­ploy­ees are back on the job af­ter the gov­ern­ment shut­down — and many are do­ing pretty well for them­selves, ac­cord­ing to a re­port that shows nearly 92,000 of them make salaries that match or ex­ceed the gov­er­nors of the states where they work.

Some, such as doc­tors, are in tra­di­tional high-pay­ing oc­cu­pa­tions, but the to­tal also in­cludes 18 painters, 22 welders and 25 pipe fit­ters.

More than 1,000 cler­i­cal work­ers in Alabama make at least $120,000, about the same salary as Gov. Kay Ivey. In Ohio, 333 Ohio “trans­porta­tion” work­ers, most of them air traf­fic con­trollers, make in the ball­park of Gov. Mike DeWine’s nearly $149,000 salary.

In Mary­land, 3,561 fed­eral work­ers ei­ther met or made more than Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s $170,000 salary. Most of them were doc­tors, den­tists or pub­lic health work­ers, which is per­haps not sur­pris­ing given that the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health is in Bethesda.

But that doesn’t ac­count for the 359 cler­i­cal em­ploy­ees, 66 ac­coun­tants, 57 in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy work­ers and 100 vo­ca­tional train­ers or school in­struc­tors who also cleared $170,000 or more a year, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice, which com­piled the data for law­mak­ers.

The 91,000 work­ers na­tion­wide who make as much or more than their gov­er­nors is up 18 per­cent from a decade ago, the last time the CRS pro­duced a sim­i­lar re­port.

“When pub­lic af­fairs staffers in Alabama are out­earn­ing their gov­er­nor, it’s time for Congress to hold hear­ings re­gard­ing the proper pay lev­els for fed­eral em­ploy­ees,” said Adam An­drze­jew­ski, CEO and founder of OpenTheBooks. com, a watch­dog group. “How can nearly 11,000 gen­eral ad­min­is­tra­tors, clerks and of­fice ser­vice staffers make as much as a gov­er­nor?”

The Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice used fed­eral salary data from 2018 and gov­er­nors’ salaries from late 2017 to make the com­par­isons.

The CRS used rough cat­e­gories of salaries to make its cal­cu­la­tions. In Cal­i­for­nia, whose gov­er­nor had the high­est salary at $195,803, white-col­lar fed­eral em­ploy­ees mak­ing $190,000 or more were counted. The ser­vice found 502 em­ploy­ees: 177 med­i­cal work­ers, 114 peo­ple in law and 211 ac­coun­tants, au­di­tors or fi­nance work­ers.

Maine’s gov­er­nor had the low­est salary at $70,000. The state had 3,774 whitecol­lar em­ploy­ees mak­ing that much or more. About 17 per­cent were in medicine and 32 per­cent were engi­neers. But 192 were IT work­ers, 30 were in sup­plies, and 84 were qual­ity as­sur­ance or agri­cul­tural prod­uct grade work­ers.

Colorado, where the gov­er­nor makes $90,000 a year, had more white-col­lar em­ploy­ees ex­ceed the gov­er­nor than any other state, with 14,879. Of those, about 1,800 were in medicine, but a stag­ger­ing 2,708 were ad­min­is­tra­tive or cler­i­cal work­ers and 1,247 were pro­cure­ment, grant or con­tract man­agers or oth­er­wise in­volved in what the gov­ern­ment calls “busi­ness and in­dus­try.”

An­other 134 Colorado em­ploy­ees were in “in­for­ma­tion and arts” — which, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral pay­roll clas­si­fi­ca­tions, most likely means they work in pub­lic af­fairs, act­ing as spokes­peo­ple of some sort.

Blue-col­lar work­ers, while less com­mon, also made the high-pay lists. Dozens of rig­gers, pipe fit­ters, painters, welders and elec­tri­cians topped their gov­er­nors’ salaries. The re­port did not break down those by state.

In 2011, the last time the re­search ser­vice looked at the data, it found chap­lains, a prison guard and even one in­te­rior de­signer who earned more than their gov­er­nors.

The lat­est re­port does not give that level of de­tail on the spend­ing cat­e­gories.

“It’s time for Congress and the ad­min­is­tra­tion to se­ri­ously con­sider down­siz­ing the fed­eral work­force,” said for­mer Sen. Tom Coburn, an Ok­la­homa Re­pub­li­can who re­quested the orig­i­nal re­port.

He said ex­tra spend­ing to keep peo­ple in jobs means more pain in the long run.

“Set­ting pri­or­i­ties and mak­ing smart cuts to lower-pri­or­ity po­si­tions, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing a shut­down or cri­sis, is far more com­pas­sion­ate and re­spon­si­ble than col­lec­tively pun­ish­ing not only all fed­eral em­ploy­ees, but the coun­try and gen­er­a­tions that fol­low,” he said.

The Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s hu­man re­sources di­vi­sion, didn’t re­spond to a re­quest seek­ing com­ment on the num­bers.

Nei­ther did the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees, a ma­jor la­bor union for fed­eral work­ers.

CRS’s re­port dealt only with salaries and didn’t in­clude bonuses.

OpenTheBooks has con­ducted its own re­search on fed­eral salaries and found that more than 400,000 fed­eral work­ers made at least $100,000 a year when all cash com­pen­sa­tion was in­cluded.

While the watch­dogs said the re­port should spur cuts, Congress ap­pears to be mov­ing in the other di­rec­tion.

The House voted last week to ap­prove a 2.6 per­cent across-the-board civil­ian pay raise. Sup­port­ers said fed­eral em­ploy­ees have suf­fered by working for the gov­ern­ment.

“Our fed­eral civil ser­vants are like any other work­force,” said Rep. Ger­ald E. Con­nolly, a Vir­ginia Demo­crat who helped lead the push for the raise. “More than 900,000 of those fed­eral em­ploy­ees earn less than $60,000 a year. They are not rich. They are not liv­ing high on the hog. They de­serve and need this ad­just­ment, es­pe­cially af­ter the long­est, most reck­less shut­down of the gov­ern­ment in Amer­i­can his­tory.”

Rep. Jim Jor­dan, Ohio Re­pub­li­can, coun­tered that fed­eral em­ploy­ees with col­lege de­grees make 21 per­cent more than com­pa­ra­ble pri­vate-sec­tor em­ploy­ees. Those with­out col­lege de­grees make 53 per­cent more in gov­ern­ment than in the pri­vate sec­tor.

“Think about what this bill says,” Mr. Jor­dan told col­leagues. “All of those hard­work­ing tax­pay­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor, hey, you are al­ready mak­ing less, but now you are go­ing to have more of your tax dol­lars go to pay peo­ple — who are al­ready mak­ing more money than you — to get a raise. How is that fair?”

Mr. Con­nolly won the ar­gu­ment. The House voted 259-161 to ap­prove the raises. Twenty-nine Repub­li­cans joined all Democrats present in back­ing the move.

“When pub­lic af­fairs staffers in Alabama are out­earn­ing their gov­er­nor, it’s time for Congress to hold hear­ings re­gard­ing the proper pay lev­els for fed­eral em­ploy­ees.” — Adam An­drze­jew­ski, OpenTheBooks.com

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