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By Phil Piemonte

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Overpaid feds found!

Flash! Most of the highest-paid federal employees are doctors and lawyers!

(If you are thinking "duh," you are probably not alone.)

But that's the news from USA Today, which has generated a lot of the stories that have provided fodder for purveyors of “overpaid fed” hysteria.

According to the publication, docs at the Veterans Health Administration and the National Institutes of Health, together with Securities and Exchange Commission attorneys, “represent the most numerous groups among at least 17,828 federal employees whose annualized salaries totaled $180,000 or more in September 2010.”

Wait a minute. We’re talking about not quite 18,000 employees — a large number of them doctors or lawyers — out of 2 million or so federal workers?

Isn’t that almost statistically insignificant or something?

The publication looked at Office of Personnel Management stats and found that, as of September 2010, about two-thirds of that group — 12,708 of them — were VHA doctors. And there were lots of other docs at agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Indian Health Service. Another 598 of the highest-paid group were SEC attorneys.

If you are saying that these are, after all, doctors, lawyers and top scientists and that’s how much they make and more, you would be right. More in private practice, from a quick look at docs’ wages and earnings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of course, that won’t stop critics from saying that the federal workforce is overpaid as a whole.

But you already knew that.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on May 04, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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Reader comments

Sun, May 15, 2011 David Leal GERMANY

Not this Federal employee! I'm no Lawyer or Doctor so it's way out of my league pay wise. I'm only going to a get the retirement benefits, if I live to be 65 or 67. Private sector employees get it NOW! Oh, I do have insurance but I still can't afford going to the doctors unless it's seriously minor. A serious issue would bankrupt me out as it would anybody else joe six-pack. I just heard on the Sunday news that VP Biden is trying to do a back door deal on cutting Government Employees pay by 5%! It's just the beginning, either we stop'em in their tracks or Bend-over, grab your ankles Federal employees and kiss it goodbye, because no one has own back and we are saving the government money. Do you know what they pay private sector employees working for the government and the difference that these companies charge for every position? It's would make heads spin!

Sat, May 14, 2011

I am not a federal employee, nor have have I ever been one. My brother in law works for the state of NC and I believe he used to work for the fed. gov. in VA. I think he makes about $55k plus benefits and he is a supervisor. A friend of mine works as an "entry level" employee in PA and makes probably $63-81k plus benefits for him and his family. They both have bachelor's degrees. I work 2 jobs and make about $35k plus housing and utilities paid. Our 2 children are on state subsidized health insurance and my wife and I have a $3k deductible. I have 2 master's degrees. One of my jobs is deemed "self-employed" as a minister by the IRS, so I get to pay more taxes than usual. If someone does a vital job and does it well, I don't have a problem with them being paid well by the government. (I.E. A good physical engineer designing interstate bridges should be paid well so we don't have a poorly designed bridge that fails.) I think it is hard to deny that while some government is essential, the U.S. federal government, and sometimes various state governments, is very bloated and excessive. Whatever happened to term limits or being a "public servant"? Some people may not desire to serve the public, but be served by the public when they seek a goverment position. The private sector will almost always outperform an oversized government system. Perhaps we should look at how New Hampshire's legislature works and compare that with the federal legislature.

Fri, May 13, 2011

SEC Lawyers? Those are the very folks that missed their Uncle Bernie Maddof and got the economy in much of the current mess. Fire them all and outsource the jobs and save the country from further ruin!

Tue, May 10, 2011

I'm a Federal Employee and after reading some of the comments I find myself agreeing with many of them. I do after several thoughts though in defense of the 2 million +/- Federal workers. I wonder how many are in the GS-5 to GS-9 or WG-4 to WG-10. In my area a GS-5 step 1 has an annual wage of 33,414. An example of someone in this position is a Police Officer, a person who carries a gun and potentially could make a life or death decision on a daily basis. My next thought is about pay. How do federal workers get paid? I'm thinking it comes from taxes we all pay. Yes, that's right, us overpaid federal workers pay taxes, so I guess we're subsidizing our own pay hmmmmmmmmm. There are tradeoffs, lower subsidized pay for job security and some matching monies for our 401(K). Yep, 50% of my federal retirement is based on how much I put into the plan and how well it does and then a quarter of my plan is based on Social Security and I think we all have an opinion about that, the final quarter is the governments portion. To summarize: 75% of my federal retirement plan is all my effort. I look at life as CHOICE, you can choose to continue being disgruntled or apply (as I did) and become part of the system and make the perceived BIG BUCKS but somehow I think you'll still be disgruntled.

Tue, May 10, 2011 Dave

It is a shame when times get tough that we tend to turn on each other. I'm an "overpaid fed". Been with the Fed for 23 years with 3 years in the Army that counts towards my retirement. I was also in the private sector before the Fed 23 years ago. The pay between similar jobs in the Fed and Private sector are pretty much equal from what I see. While Fed retirement benefits use to be very nice, in 1983 give or take a year, the retirement system went from CSRS to FERS. CSRS was a very nice retirement plan that my Dad retired under. FERS is very akin to larger public sector companies. I had sticker shock when I came to the fed. while my base pay went up, they took out more for the same Medial and other benefits I had with my private sector company. I had dental with my private sector job and virtually none with my Fed job. While my base pay went up $5,000 a year, my take home went down about $100/week. I know the private sector has cut back on benefits over the years and so have the feds. I think Feds are better off right now with Job Security but even that is not a lock these days; the fed does layoff's too. I really do feel bad for everyone out there hurting because of the economy and am thankful I have my job. And, I would not argue a 5% pay cut to help out, but would that 5% really get to those who need it. I've had a couple close friends leave the Fed maybe 10 years ago and went into business for themselves and flourished. They wondered whey they did not leave sooner. The economy was good then. One of them in the housing market. Then the crash and one is virtually bankrupt, then other still doing ok. So, the private sector has been better than the Fed at times. These things ebb and flow. I was a little jealous of my friend who was rolling in it in the real estate market while I was still suffering with my Fed job, but I did not jump on him for unfairness. He took the chance to go private and succeeded for some time. I surely hope he does not now look badly at me because he is now not doing so well. Oh, if you are on the side of Fed employees are lazy; not so. Feds appear to be unproductive but not because of lack of trying. Its because of the burdens that the Fed employees must work under that slows all actions to a craw. Read the Federal Acquisition Regulations (on line) a bit and see what Feds put up with for simple procurement actions. 10 times harder than the private sector. Its a nightmare. These are provided by our friends we elect on Capitol Hill. If you want your Fed Gov to be more efficient and less waste, tackle that. Note that the FAR is only one of many things that govern what and how we do things. If the fed were to compete against the private sector, the fed would go out of business in a week. Anyway, the best to you all. We will get through this, hopefully together. Dave

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