Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Is your pay a matter of public record?

If you have wondered how much your boss or co-worker makes, you may have an easy way to find out.

Although the new pay rate database at—which contains public pay rate data from the Office of Personnel Management—does not list the pay of every fed (national security concerns), it sure does list it for a lot of them. You’re probably in there, too.

What you find in the database could make you feel either better or worse, depending on your point of view

We tried it for a few folks we know, and were a bit surprised—both at how much and how little—some people make.

Where you live is a factor. Feds in the capital region—Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia—are among the most well-paid, on average. But of course, the “average” pay in those states is affected by the large number of high-ranking feds in the mix compared to other areas of the country, and the higher cost of living in the region.

But go ahead. Look, if you dare …

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Nov 29, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 RayW

In many Real Life jobs it is a firing offense to say what your actual pay is (I know because I worked in Real Life for 16 years) and in some cases you are discouraged from even saying what your title is. Yet here is a NAME, STATE, ORGANIZATION, TITLE, and SALARY being posted. I know that there are some posters who think it is cool that information I would not give out for privacy (and yes it is privacy when someone can target you based on where you live, how much you make, and what work you do) reasons is spread out.

Since I am DoD I did not show up and I noticed that some friends in the IRS did not either, but for those who do not think it is an issue, consider this. You are at work. Someone with a bone to pick with (insert organization) does a search, finds that you are a very high dollar employee making over $100K a year for the organization or someone special like a guard, looks up your name in a Google etc. search, and then while you are at work watches your daughter, son, wife (and for EEO reasons, or husband) go somewhere and does something anti-social to them? Farfetched? Not really, there are the McVees, Osama Bin Ladins, Chinese and other countries, or even third parties and other nut cases out there who will go for an easy target that will make the news and give free publicity to their cause or a chance at getting inside your facility.

As far as what my pay is, if you know my GS level and step, you can find out what my pay is (although NSPS did put many of us who worked above step 10), but you have to have a need to know to find that out, because I do not publish it tied to my name.

I think anyone who shows up on this list should file a high dollar lawsuit against congress (since they are probably the ones who mandated this) and OPM to get it removed. Yes, the $$ will come from the tax payers and the house, senate, and president will just pay it, ignore it, and keep on with business as usual.

Wed, Dec 7, 2011

HEY PII VIOLATION: You need to look at the NIST SP800-122; Section 2 of examples of PII data. Then you need to take the test again. Because it is NOT a PII violation for this info to be published. I don't see SSN info being displayed. You can capture most of this info on a simple google search. However, there is an issue for CYBER, like where this website gets its info and is it properly protected?

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 Paul

As someone that deals with privacy issues every day I wouldn't consider this a violation, although it is a little distasteful. I'm not sure about the regulations in this regard but my understanding is that as civil servants, our position and pay are available to the public as part of an open government. Although those of us in DoD are excluded, I found it interesting to see how overpaid some civilians in other agencies are. Some make well over GS-15 step 10 for positions that shouldn't be more than 13/14 at best. Even with professional compensation, it seems a little high. I've never really agreed with the social rule about not disclosing work compensation so I kind of like this.

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 PII Violation Mississippi

I agree! I feel that peoples names should NOT be published with locations & pay. Position would be more appropriate. This opens the door for potentially a world of problems.

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 Don

Feds should not fret about contractor pay. As we read this, Congress is trying to pass legislation that includes a $400,000/year pay cap for employees of federal contractors. I believe the current cap on contractors salaries is $700,000/year. Ah, the efficiencies of the private sector!

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