A reader recently asked how to learn how much salary an individual federal employee receives each year. Not knowing the answer, I decided to find out if it was available. It was not hard.
As a federal employee, were you aware that your salary information is readily available to anyone with a computer, internet access and 30 seconds to locate the information?
A publicly available database will quickly find a current federal employee (current as of fiscal year 2008) and that person’s salary information. A common name would lead to multiple results for people employed by the federal government throughout the federal system.
For example, if you type in a name like "Robert Smith," you will see a number of results. The results for each person will show the state, county, city, job title, grade, salary and the amount of any monetary awards the employee received in fiscal year 2007.
But, assume for example, a person wants to know how to locate a particular person and the searcher knows the city and state where the federal employee works. In that case, the database will quickly isolate the federal employee by name who works in that city and state. Once the computer has located the individual, it reveals all of the information listed above as well as the name of the employee’s pay plan.
I tried out the database of several friends who work for the federal government. I was able to locate the person in each instance although it sometimes required some ingenuity.
For example, if you want to find out how much a federal employee makes and you know the person’s name and state of employment, you may type in the person’s name without getting a result. That is often because the person’s first name may be listed in a different way. So, for example, if you are searching for a "Bob Smith," you may have to look under "Robert Smith" or "R Smith," etc. to locate the person. I was pleased to see that those I have worked with have been successful and apparently doing well in their careers.
Employees involved in security work, the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, nuclear materials, IRS, and jobs essential to national security are excluded from the database. And, while the status of the US Postal Service as a federal entity is open to question, as far as employees of the US Postal Service are concerned, their 2010 federal salary information is now available and more up to date than for the rest of the federal workforce.
Salary information has become big news recently with the federal government taking a strong interest in how much corporate executives are making in companies that receive federal money. And, it appears, the federal government will be making decisions on how much some employees of private companies will be making on the theory that use of federal money gives the Treasury Department a say in this decision.
A person’s salary information is personal and, if you worked in a private company, chances are your salary would not be readily available to a neighbor who was wondering how you could afford a new car or a person getting ready to file a claim against you seeking to snatch some of your money. But, as a federal employee who gets paid from tax receipts, the theory is that how much you make is public information. Fortunately, your address, phone number and Social Security numbers are not publicly available–at least without a nosy intruder having to take more time and spend a few dollars to get the more detailed personal information.
Chances are, many readers do not know how easy it is for anyone to find their gross salary figure. It is also a pretty good bet that many readers do not like the idea of this information being available to the public. But, as you now know, while the information may not reflect the latest salary figures, the information is there for anyone to see.