Top 10 Highest Paying Federal Agencies in 2021

What federal agencies had the highest average federal employee salaries in fiscal year 2021?

What were the highest paying federal agencies in fiscal year 2021? These are the average salaries paid to the federal employees who worked at the agencies last year. Some of the agencies are ones you may not have heard of.

All of the salary data in this article are provided courtesy of For more information on how to search for and locate individual federal employee salaries, see How to Find Federal Employees’ Salaries by Name.

Here is the list:

Federal AgencyAverage Annual Salary

What Are These Agencies?

What are some of these agencies? Some of the names on the list are ones many Americans likely have not heard of. Here are descriptions of some of the more obscure ones.

The Office of the National Cyber Director

One of the agencies is a brand new one created last year by the Biden administration. According to the White House website:

The Office of the National Cyber Director was established by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, as well as President Joe Biden’s nomination and Senate confirmation of John Christopher Inglis as the first National Cyber Director. The National Cyber Director serves as a principal advisor to the President on cybersecurity policy and strategy, and cybersecurity engagement with industry and international stakeholders.

ONCD is working to ensure every American can share in the full benefits of our digital ecosystem, including the economic prosperity and democratic participation it enables, while aggressively addressing and mitigating the risks and threats at large in cyberspace. By cultivating unity of purpose and efforts across agencies and sectors, ONCD will contribute to the development and implementation of stronger national strategy, policy, and resilience for our digital ecosystem. only lists one employee for this particular agency in 2021, John Christopher Inglis, who had an annual salary last year of $183,100. Good chance there are other employees at the agency, or will be soon, as the White House website says, “The ONCD intends to build out its capabilities and partnerships significantly in Fiscal Year 2022 to support this whole-of-nation effort.”

Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

Another agency that operates under the White House is the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. According to the Obama White House website:

The Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator is dedicated to the protection of the American intellectual property that powers our economy. American entrepreneurs, business owners, and the general public are best served by an economy that fosters and protects our global competitive advantage, which must discourage intellectual property theft while protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens. Our office strives to make sure that the Federal government takes the most appropriate action to realize those goals.

I was unable to locate a description on the Biden White House website, but I did confirm this office is still active as it did issue a report in April. listed three federal employees at this agency in 2021, the highest annual salary of which was $199,300.

U.S. Arctic Research Commission

This is the description of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission according to its website:

The US Arctic Research Commission (USARC) is an independent federal agency created by the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984. It is a presidentially appointed advisory body supported by staff in Washington, DC, and in Anchorage, Alaska. In addition to delivering a biennial report to the President and Congress outlining recommended scientific research goals and objectives for the Arctic, the Commission develops and recommends an integrated national Arctic research policy and builds cooperative links in Arctic research within the federal government, with the State of Alaska, and with international partners.

Public Buildings Reform Board

The Public Buildings Reform Board website says this about the agency:

The Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB) was established under P.L. 114-287, the Federal Assets Sale & Transfer Act of 2016 (FASTA), as an independent agency to identify opportunities for the Federal government to significantly reduce its inventory of civilian real property and thereby reduce costs.

Among the agency’s stated goals are “reducing the reliance on leased space” and “selling or redeveloping high value assets that are under-utilized to obtain the highest and best value for the taxpayer and maximize the return to the taxpayer.” If post-COVID telework policies are here to stay and are even expanded, I presume this agency is likely to be very busy in the near term.

Why Are Federal Employees’ Salaries Public Information?

The current policy of releasing names and federal pay started in 2005. At that time, the Bush administration started withholding salary information from the public for about 900,000 federal civilian employees. The practice of refusing to release the information was “breaking a tradition of openness that began in 1816” according to a lawsuit filed by a group at Syracuse University under the Freedom of Information Act.

The group argued that “Citizens have a right to know who is working for the government” and the new policy changed that policy.

The federal government began publicly naming its employees, their job category, salary, and workplace in 1816. The first entry in the 1816 version of the Federal Register was James Madison. He was identified as president of the United States at a salary of $25,000 and that his birthplace was in Virginia. The second entry was Secretary of State James Monroe and noted his salary of $5,000.

It wasn’t just political leaders who were listed. According to an article in the Washington Post, Treasury Department messenger John Connell was from Maryland and worked in Washington for the federal government at a salary of $410 a year, and another Marylander, Richard H. Briscoe, worked for the Comptroller’s Office clerk for $1,000 a year.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.