Submitted by Adam Andrzejewski, author of OpenTheBooks substack
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com recently determined from official Federal Freedom of Information Act filings that we pay Beltway bureaucrats in the federal executive agencies outside of the Defense Department and the U.S. Post Office some $576 million per day.
That’s more than $210 billion per year for the 1.44 million employees of 125 rank-and-file general administrative, civil enforcement and federal law enforcement agencies.
Economic uncertainty might surround many taxpayers, but for federal workers, we are funding lavish and perk-filled lifestyles.
In 109 of the 125 federal agencies in Washington, the average employee salary is more than $100,000.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average real median wage for the average employee was $54,339 in 2021.
The average salary at the Census Bureau is $67,656. That’s just a small example of the ‘private-sector’ versus ‘public-sector’ pay disparity.
After working just three years for the federal government, employees have 44 days of paid time off. Can you skip work for nine weeks and still have a job?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average number of paid vacation days for U.S. workers is 11 days, or a day more than two weeks.
Furthermore, most federal employees worked from home for years due to the recently concluded Covid “emergency.” Congress incentivized this with a $570 million “paid-to-stay home” fund at Treasury. If your child wasn’t back to school, you could collect $21,000 over 15 weeks in paid family leave.
Congressional testimony shows Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja still has no clue how many federal employees returned, or where the people we pay actually do their jobs.
(Watch the answer starting at 3:00.)
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, normally a staunch ally of the Biden Administration, had to call for getting federal employees back to work to revive the city’s economy.
President Biden suggested he would soon ask workers to report for duty, but many desks remain empty because “flexibility” still prevails.
Then, President Biden asked for the biggest pay raise in more than 40 years. His 2023 budget includes a 5.2% pay hike for the 1.4 million executive agency employees.
We all had to pay our taxes when they were due a few weeks ago. For many federal employees, that rule is being flouted.
In March 2023, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that “The number of delinquent Federal civilian employees has increased by 32 percent from Fiscal Years (FY) 2015 to 2021.” Some 149,000 federal employees owe $1.5 billion in back taxes!
In the private sector, pay is typically associated with performance. But in the federal government, performance appears not to figure into the compensation equation.
Take the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). We were all reminded of its importance earlier this year with the implosions of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The FDIC is there to insure depositors for up to $250,000, helping Americans trust that the banking system is reliable.
Well, there are 58,000 employees at the FDIC—many of them auditors. Average salary? $160,000. None of them seemed to notice stress on the banking system. The two banks that failed were highly regarded institutions. But in fact, they had veered away from solvency.
One might ask if we taxpayers – who will pick up the tab for this debacle according to the Administration’s plan -- are getting what they we are paying for at the FDIC?
Such disparities between pay and performance, and they are legion, are making an impact in Congress. Senator Joni Ernst (R.-Iowa) has joined our organization at OpenTheBooks.com in demanding answers to three questions that should be simple: Who is working? Where are they? What on Earth are they doing for us?
As recent testimony by OPM Director Ahuja shows, the feds just don’t want us to know.
For example, unlike its predecessors, the Biden Administration has redacted key information on federal workers.
In the Biden Administration 2022 payroll, 350,861 worker names are redacted. Under the Obama Administration, in FY 2016, that figure was 2,300. Stunning.
The administration has also redacted 281,656 worker locations.
Our auditors estimate some $36 billion worth of taxpayer-funded salary, benefits and bonuses are hidden from Americans. Even worse, they are headed to mystery people in mystery locations.
That means no scrutiny of performance versus pay. It means no oversight by Congress. It means no chance to cut bloat during the budget process.
We don’t know who these workers are, what they do, where they work, or how much each of them makes.
Like Senator Ernst, we plan to find out. At $576 million per day, it’s time we knew.
Additional details found at Newsweek in a co-authored editorial “Where’s Waldo At Club Fed” with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and Adam Andrzejewski, CEO, OpenTheBooks.com.