Have you ever wondered how much a friend or colleague makes who works for the federal government? Do you know how much of your salary information may be available to the general public if you work for Uncle Sam’s civilian army?
Several months ago, we ran an article on how to find out the salary of an individual federal employee using a database available to the public. The database is compiled using data from the Office of Personnel Management.
You can access the database on the internet to do your own searches. As before, you may have to work with a person’s name to do a specific search. For example, you may know a person as “Bob” but the database has his title listed under the name of “Robert.”
Job Title Searches
A researcher who wants to know information about federal employee salaries in a particular field can search by job title. That will allow a curious person to locate, for example, federal employees in the human resources field work work for the federal government.
I selected this field as an example only because I worked in a few personnel offices in the federal government (now called “human resources management” or, in some cases, “human capital.”)
For example, I did a quick search to find all human resources management personnel in the State of Virginia. It quickly found 647 individuals and listed their pay plan, grade and their adjusted base salary. It also shows the amount of any awards received by an individual in fiscal year 2008.
Highest Federal Human Resources Management Salary in Virginia: $195,488
As it turns out, those in human resources management, working in Virginia, are making a pretty good annual salary. Most of those listed in the first few pages work in the Arlington or Alexandria areas (suburbs of Washington, DC) and salaries of about $100,000 or so are not uncommon.
Moreover, you can then sort the information by category. For example, I sorted the human resources management people found in my search to show the highest salaries first. As it turns out, one person makes $195,488 (or at least he did in 2008) and he received an award of $9000 in 2008. He is under a different salary schedule that most readers which could be the reason for the higher salary.
I also searched to see who received the highest award among those working in human resources management in Virginia in 2008. One person, in the Senior Executive Service, received an award of $30,920 in addition to her salary of $158,500. This person worked outside the Washington, DC area.
Highest Federal Human Resources Management Salary: $213,005
I was also curious to see who makes the highest salary in the federal government in the human resources management arena. As it turns out, one person made $213,005 in 2008. In addition to a pretty good salary, the person also received an award of $208. Of course, this may not really be the highest paid position in this field in government. But, among those listed in the database for 2008, and who are listed as being within the field of human resources management, this is the highest salary listed.
Perhaps because they do the most important work; perhaps it is because decisions are often made in Washington, DC or perhaps it is because of the cost of living. Whatever the reason, the highest salaries tend to be in the Washington, DC area and to people who work for agencies with unique pay systems. One of the top ten human resources specialists in the country works outside of the Washington, DC area. That person is in in New York City and brought in $173,895 in 2008 and received an award of $774.
The human resources management person who received the highest award in fiscal year also works in Washington, DC and was awarded $33,600 in addition to a salary of $158,500.
While the database is useful for satisfying your curiosity about your friends or colleagues, there are several quirks.
To search for people located in one state, there is a pull-down menu. That is okay but it appears to include every nation in the world and the American states are intermingled. In effect, have patience to dig out the information you want.
Be Careful of Job Titles
Also, there is a pull-down menu for job titles. Some federal occupations have unique titles and you many not find that title. For example, “labor relations specialist” is a common title in government but you won’t find that title among those listed. Instead, there is a category called “labor-management relations examining”. This identifies those employees working for agencies such as the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the National Labor Relations Board and only located 348 individuals. And, incidentally, those with the highest salaries in this field make considerably less. The highest paid person in this category comes in at $154,779 and works in Washington, DC. They are also much lower in the awards category. The highest award paid out was to a GS 13 employee who was given $1500 in fiscal year 2008.
Search by Agency
It is also possible to search for employees who work for a particular agency and to narrow the search to those employees in one state. There is a pull-down menu listing the federal agencies. This can also be tricky because of abbreviations or, in some cases, an agency name may not be formally called by its popular name.
Having done a search on human resources management personnel in the federal government, I wondered how the salaries were structured at the agency best known for its work in the human resources management field: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
I queried the database to locate all employees working for the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, DC. It listed 1451 employees. Sorting the salary figures, the highest paid person in that agency in 2008 made $172,200.
This database does not include all federal employees. Employees involved in security work, the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, nuclear materials, IRS, and jobs essential to national security are excluded. The list contains most executive branch employees but does not cover the White House, Congress, the Postal Service, and independent agencies and commissions.
In short, the database may not yield the specific information you are seeking. But, if you want to find out how much a particular federal employee makes (or how much the person made in 2008), this database is a good place to start—and it is available to anyone with internet access and a computer.