The Office of Personnel Management maintains a list of the amount of civilian workers that each branch of the government has, in addition to their salary amounts. Although it does not mention individuals by name nor their positions, the numbers are quite surprising when the data is adjusted for an annual income of $180,000 or more.

VA180orMore

Some facts to consider:

  1. There are 25,356 government agency workers earning $180,000 or more.
  2. 18,709 of those workers work at the Department of Veteran Affairs (5% of workforce).
  3. 2,355 are at the Department of Health and Human Services (3% of workforce).
  4. 1,605 are at the Department of Transportation (3% of workforce).

Note, again, that this list is of civilian workers — no members of the military are included; neither does it include the Judiciary Branch or congressional staff. By way of contrast, the percentage of those earning more than $180,000 at the Department of Defense, the largest agency of the government, is just under 1/2%.

Historically, the idea of working for the government included a trade-off of sorts: a reduction in income relative to private industry, in exchange for increased job security and benefits. It seems as though that reality has changed.

Given the scandal at the VA over wait times and patient care, one must wonder what all of these high-paid individuals are doing. One thing we do know is that the VA has paid over $200 million in wrongful death payments and an additional $645 million in medical malpractice since 2001.

A reasonable conclusion would be that these thousands of high-income individuals are doing something other than actually earning their pay.