17,000 Federal Employees Earned More Than $200K Last Year

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More than 16,900 federal employees took home in excess of $200,000 in base salary in 2014, according to a partial database of federal salary data.

The information, compiled by FedSmith.com using data from the Office of Personnel Management and other agencies, shows the annual compensation for every civilian federal worker, save those at the Defense Department. The number of workers earning more than $200,000 represented about 1.6 percent of employees on the list, and is up from about 15,000 who cleared that salary in 2013. It also makes up a slightly higher percentage of the employees on this list.

The high earners worked overwhelmingly as medical officers at the Veterans Affairs Department. Other agencies that require a highly specialized workforce paid several employees at least $200,000, including the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

More than 1,600 federal employees cleared $300,000 in base salary last year. Just two feds -- VA doctors in Palo Alto, Calif., and Pittsburgh, Pa. -- took in more than $400,000.

All of these employees are paid on systems specific to their agency or occupation. Some of these systems have much higher pay caps than the General Schedule, which sets the salaries for the vast majority of federal employees and capped annual pay -- before adjusting for locality -- at just less than $130,000.

Even members of the Senior Executive Service had their pay capped at $181,500 for 2014. The highest paid feds on the Executive Schedule, such as agency heads and the vice president, earned $201,700. Deputy heads received less than $200,000.

About 73 percent of the federal workforce is paid on the General Schedule, while about 17 percent is on an agency-specific plan. The remaining federal workers are blue-collar employees on the wage-grade pay scale, or members of the SES.

The federal government has a long history of releasing the employment and salary data of its workforce, though in the last decade it has significantly scaled back. In 2003, OPM began withholding all information related to civilian employees at the Defense Department. In 2005, it began redacting the name and occupations of many other employees in sensitive positions.

The database did not include data on bonus pay.

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