government employee salaries

A few weeks ago I ran across a news article about a newspaper that had used FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, to gain access to the government salary information for the vast majority of US government workers. GAO employees as well as those working in national security related positions are not included. (The national security exemption is a well trod FOIA exemption. I don’t know why GAO was not included.)

The Asbury Park Press, a newspaper in New Jersey, is owned by Gannett, which also owns USAToday.

Click here to go to the database.

So what does it do to the morale of organizations when everyone knows how much everyone else makes? I know when I worked in government it made me really angry to find out someone I worked with made more money than me, especially when they had less experience. But that is true everywhere, not just in the federal government.

However, federal government employees can’t just go get a different federal government job and get a raise. Once you have your pay grade, you have to work your way up the ranks. The result of this might be the revolving doors that are so disdained by good government groups. Seen as cashing in on expertise, federal workers who walk through the revolving doors are seen as traitors to observers. But many federal government workers look at those individuals wistfully.

Could knowing how much all of your colleagues make you walk through that door more quickly?

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2 thoughts on “government employee salaries

  1. Public salary information is a fascinating issue. Our public university has to report salaries and a local paper puts it online. As an employee, it’s empowering, as a colleague it’s a little more complicated – but not by much. From a democratic perspective, it seems to me like the information should be free – we are talking about civil servants after all.

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