Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Federal pay: Are you one of the 77,000?

You may have heard about a Congressional Research Service study that found that about 77,000 feds make more than the governors of their states.

The detailed, 54-page report was assembled at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who — yes — asked CRS to compare the salaries of federal employees to the salaries of the governors of the states which the feds reside.

The study was not exactly all-inclusive. Some federal agencies were excluded, including a number of intelligence agencies, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the White House Office, the Office of the Vice President, the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission, and a few others. Non-appropriated fund employees also were excluded.

Salaries included from the legislative branch were limited to those of the Government Printing Office and certain commissions. As one footnote explains: “As indicated to you in a telephone message from CRS, no other official source provides comprehensive and searchable information on the remainder of the legislative branch. A comparison of legislative branch salaries to the salaries of governors is, therefore, not possible.”


CRS found that governors’ salaries ranged from $212,179 in California and $179,000 in New York (the two highest), to $70,000 in Maine and $87,352 in Arkansas (the two lowest).

The results of the comparison? The occupational series most likely to earn more than the governor was medical officer, of whom 18,351 made more than the governor of their state (probably no big surprise to Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D). This was followed by air traffic control, 5,170; general attorney, 4,346; general engineering, 3,539, and miscellaneous administration and program positions, 2,777.

The state where the highest number of feds earned more than the governor was Colorado — 10,875. Of course, their governor earns $90,000, one of the lowest.

Maryland was second, with 7,284 feds making more than the governor’s $150,000. Then again, Maryland borders the nation’s capital on three sides, so there are bound to be at least a few high-earning feds who live in the state.

There’s more of this stuff in the report — in excruciating detail — but you can look for yourself.

So what does it mean that 77,000 out of a couple million feds make more than the governors of their states? Well, we’re not really sure.

And how does one compare salaries for a short-term elected office with salaries for lifelong professional careers? Again, we’re not entirely sure.

But the press picked it up anyway.

Which may be the whole point.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Jun 06, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Thu, Jul 14, 2011

Journeyman Border Patrol Agents received a grade increase to GS12 just before the budget issues was made public. Their supervisors increased to GS13s. With AUO and FLSA they are all making almost one time again the pay of the state, county and local officers who daily deal with drug deals, domestic violence, high speed chases, fraud, officer involved shootings, mentally deranged persons, bar calls, murder, thefts and a wide range of other offenses daily.

When there were fewer agents nationally in the 1980s and 90s there was a need for AUO overtime but now with over 21000 agents why are the taxpayers paying OT for these agent?

No Social Security cost of living increase, no cost of living for retirees and yet gas, food, insurance and fuel oil all taking major increases. Why did Federal Agents get a major increase?

Google what qualifies for AUO work and what GS12s and GS13s make then add in 25% of that for AUO overtime and the FLSA rate to get their total pay then compare that to the governor's pay in all the states you're going to be surprised!

Port inspectors are in a similar situation with there double and triple overtime pays for holidays and call ins which they are not shy about telling people.

All this at taxpayer's expense!

Tue, Jun 21, 2011

Its time for a class action law suit. Fed employees must unite.

Thu, Jun 16, 2011

I think these "studies" are interesting by Congress who continually omit their own staff from the mix. They pay their top people plenty, and the determination of the scale has nothing to do with the number of years put in as a public employee. Maybe Dr. Coburn thinks we should cut the pay of the Federal Doctors, lawyers listed in the study. Wonder how the Vets (assuming most of the Docs are with the VA) are going to feel about that level of care, complements of a Physician Senator.

Fri, Jun 10, 2011

Senator Coburn is that rare blend of demogogue and hypocrit that makes for great politicians. Here in OK we thrive on such personalities. After all, in a state where folks spend more on their bass boats than their public schools, what do you expect? Critical thinking?

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 Mike

Another thing to remember is that most Federal positions are in direct proportion to the continued operational success of our military and our nation (i.e. freedom).

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