Highly Paid Federal Administrative Positions: Where Are They and How Much Do They Make?

The amount of salary federal employees make as opposed to private sector compensation is often a point of contention. But there is more to the issue than just comparing the private sector to the federal sector. For example, some in federal human resources management or equal employment opportunity make much more than others for doing the same job for Uncle Sam. In fact, the more highly compensated employees often work for much smaller agencies with relatively small budgets and a small number of federal employees.

Many of the more highly compensated administrative professionals make more because they often work in agencies that are not under the requirements of the general pay schedule.

The drafters of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, which bankers know as FIRREA, for example, probably never considered that it would result in substantially higher pay and benefits for administrative personnel working at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) than those doing the exact same job a block away at the Department of Interior. Both jobs are in Washington DC, both use the METRO to get to work and both are federal employees.

For example, the most highly compensated person in Equal Employment Opportunity at the FDIC appears to be the Complaints Processing Branch Chief, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion and receives $181,820. The FDIC has 5,381 employees and a budget of approximately $3.4 billion. The most highly compensated person in EEO at the Department of Interior is the Director for the Office of Civil Rights receives $179,700. Interior has approximately 67,383 employees and a budget of more than $12 billion.

One difference is that many of these smaller regulatory agencies negotiate pay with unions. (See Negotiating Federal Salary: How Do Negotiated Pay Levels in Agencies Compare to the Average Federal Salary?) Some of the human resources people that do the bargaining for the agency with the union that represents employees may also benefit from the higher salaries paid by the agencies. Perhaps Congress never thought through the implications of that process before setting up these different pay systems.

The other difference is that, for most federal agencies, the money they spend is appropriated by Congress. For many of the smaller regulatory agencies, their expenditures are paid by the industries being regulated. Arguably, the source of the money should not make much difference in determining the monetary value of a job from one agency to another but, in reality, if the money is available to an agency to pay higher salaries, chances are it will be used.

The message to federal administrative professionals is clear: You may be able to use your federal experience to land a much higher paying job using your experience in the same field you gained working for another agency. And, keep in mind, it isn’t just the yearly salary. With the higher salary you will receive as a federal employee, you are likely to reap the rewards for many years to come as a retired federal employee.

Winning Agencies

Which of these agencies have the most highest paid human resources and equal employment opportunity employees? The winner is the Comptroller of the Currency. This agency of 3104 employees has six employees on the list. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an agency with approximately 5381 employees, comes in a close second with 5 employees on the list.

The overall winning individual, that is the highest paid employee on these two lists in an agency with the smallest number of employees: the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The agency has 504 employees with one employee on the list.

Highest Paid Human Resources Employees

The table below displays the highest paid federal employees in the human resources management field according to the data in FedsDataCenter.com. You can use the search engines at the FedsDataCenter.com site to search for individual employee salaries. The most highly compensated employees in the human resources field range from a low of about $179,000 to a high of about $227,485 on the first page of our search results. The salary information is from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Keep in mind this salary data is normally made available at least one year late so the actual ranking of the highest paid employees will change as new data become available. Some employees have probably retired or moved to different positions since the original data was compiled. The average salary for this classification: $87,128.59

The average salary for a federal employee is about $74,000 according to several sources.

Without a doubt, some of these highly compensated human resources professionals have unique talents that may justify the higher salary. In other cases, they probably happen to be working for an agency that is outside the usual general schedule employed by most agencies. Some of the small agencies have several of the highest paid employees in government in the human resources office which means that some of the highest paid employees are not in charge of the office.

To use the example cited above, the highest paid human resources professional at the relatively small FDIC is paid $216,388. The highest paid HR professional in the much larger Department of the Interior makes $155,500.

Name Agency # of Agency Employees Salary
Rodriguez, Avelino L Office Of Thrift Supervision 944 $227,485
Katcoff, Benjamin H Comptroller Of the Currency 3104

$224,983

Crosser, Joy R. FDIC 5381 $216,388
 Bowden, Dorothy G. Commodity Futures Trading Commission 498 $196,315
Ellison, Teresa F Securities and Exchange Commission 3642 $194,594
Jarcho, Vivian B Securities and Exchange Commission 3642 $194,297
McCoy, Catherine M Commodity Futures Trading Commission 498 $192,818
Gabel, Allan A Comptroller of the Currency 3104 $190,352
Oleson, Eric J Commodity Futures Trading Commission 498 $189,749
Talley, Gregory Dale Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 5381 $187,678
Stewart, Kathleen Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 5381 $186,969
Ferrell, Bart C. Presidio Trust 323 $185,000
Mack, Larry K Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 5381 $183,652
Muir, Stephen Comptroller of the Currency 3104  $182,620
Charles, Joy C Comptroller of the Currency 3104 $181,433
Dawsey, Antonia T NASA Headquarters 18,100 $179,700
Taglialatela, Linda S Dept. of State 18,900 $179,700
Wiggins Sandra L. Agency for International Development 2647 $179,700
Gaugler, Christine E Customs and Border Protection 58,105  $179,700
Shamley, John H Federal Aviation Administration 46,794 $179,700
Amaral, David M Dept. of Energy 16,000 $179,700
Neal, Jeffrey R DHS HQ 230,000 $179,700
Milton, William P. Jr Dept. of Agriculture 104,305  $179,700

Highest Paid EEO Managers

Of course, it isn’t just human resources folks who work in administrative positions in all agencies. Another example: Equal Employment Opportunity managers.

According to our database, the highest paid EEO official in the federal government works for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Here is a listing of the highest paid EEO official in the federal government according  to the FedsDataCenter.com information. The highest paid in this list receives $224,182 and the lowest receives $160,115. The average salary: $98,978.

Name Agency # of Agency Employees Salary
Cofield, Joyce Byrd Comptroller Of Currency 3104 $224,182
Moran, Michael P Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 5381 $181,820
Dickerson, Terri A U.S. Coast Guard 49,542  $179,700
Wells, Barry L. Agency For International Development 2647  $179,700
Thurmond A. Jacy, Jr Social Security Administration 66,666  $179,700
Robinson John M Dept. of State 18,900  $179,700
Manuel Brenda NASA HQS 18,100  $179,700
Eller, Sharon D Office Of The Secretary Of The Interior 67383  $179,700
Aramaki, Suzan J Commerce, Office of Civil Rights 56,259  $179,700
Horner, Mary J Health Resources And Services Adm 1,540 $177,912
Carmichael, Jennifer K Transportation Security Admin. 53,421 $172,550
Berman, Susan L Federal Deposit Insurance Corp 5381 $172,279
Williams, Harnetta R Federal Aviation Administration 46,794 $169,188.
Howard, William E Federal Housing Finance Agency 504 $167,000
Williams, Barbara D Nuclear Regulatory Commission 3930 $165,300
Jackson, Linda M NASA HQS. 18,100 $165,300
Jones, Franklin C Customs And Border Protection 58,105 $164,125
Rivera, Myrna M Federal Aviation Administration 46,794 $163,883
Shih, Stephen T. DHS HQs 230,000 $162,790
Torres, Miguel A NASA Hqs 18,100 $162,113
Elzy, Nadine L Government Printing Office 2200 $161,175
Tudisco, Rebecca Valas Comptroller of the Currency 3104 $160,115

 

No doubt, the dispute about federal salaries will go on for some time. The disparity in salaries for similar positions between federal agencies will likely add fuel to the fiery dispute. Those who favor higher salaries for all federal employees will use the data to argue for higher salaries. Those who favor lower salary levels and lower government spending will use the data as being indicative of government spending that is out of control.

The data are here for everyone to see. Those employees in the lower paying jobs will now know where to look for their next position in the federal government.

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources.

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