Every taxpayer in America can search the $136 billion federal payroll by zip code.
When President Donald Trump originally vowed to “drain the swamp” of Washington’s fathomless bureaucracy, it was hard to tell how deep the morass went. Now you can find out yourself, zip code by zip code, with an interactive tool we’ve built at our government transparency web site, OpenTheBooks.com.
It’s a game the whole taxpaying family can play! Use it and be amazed—and also help out reform-minded legislators and White House staffers by finding clues to the federal waste, overspending and bloated government in your very own neighborhood. Click here to access the map below.
Among other things, we have created an interactive map that helps you search the swamp in any of the 29,390 U.S. ZIP codes, each marked on the map below with a pin. Just click a pin (ZIP code) and scroll down to see the results that will then appear in the chart beneath the map.
Last week, we launched this feature in an OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping The Swamp, A Study of the Administrative State. The overall results we discovered were pretty breathtaking. We found, for example, that 406,000 federal employees make more than $100,000 and 78 large U.S. federal agencies have an average salary in the six-figure range.
More than 330,000 employees also received bonuses in addition to their big-dollar salaries in fiscal 2016, the most recent numbers available. Not surprisingly, bureaucrats inside the Washington, D.C., beltway collected the largest share of that extra money. However, large and small agencies across the entire country handed out extra cash.
After our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com scrubbed the data, we found countless examples of questionable spending in a number of local areas. Here are just three examples:
1. Zip codes 20500, 22315, 21207 & 22214 – Washington, D.C. Beltway: Employees in just four ZIP codes collected $85 million in bonus payments. This is the backbone of the “administrative state.” This is atop some $18.3 billion in federal salaries in the same areas. Click here to access the map above.
2. Zip code 10003 – New York City: One Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program manager collected a whopping bonus of $64,155 apiece, bringing her total compensation to $249,255. This meant she earned more in fiscal 2016 than Vice President Joe Biden, who pulled down $230,700 for the same time period. The program manager was not alone: an EPA general engineer in Washington D.C. got the same salary and bonus.
3. Zip code 94158 – San Francisco, Calif.: the home of Presidio Trust. This small land management agency, which manages the lands around the city’s trademark Presidio park system, paid out three of the four largest bonuses in the entire federal system. One human resources manager won a $141,525 bonus to bring his total pay to $326,515. A Trust realtor got an $80,000 bonus to achieve a total pay package of $279,830. Another Trust program administrator got a $75,000 bonus to bring his total compensation to $271,622. What makes these lavish payouts different is that they come from the revenues of the managed lands themselves, rather than from the federal government’s general coffers.
4. Zip code 80215 – Lakewood, Colo.: One Department of Interior program manager received a $65,785 bonus, bringing his total compensation to $249,885. The administrator regulates compliance and manages financial revenues from energy company production on federal lands.
As you search the federal payroll, keep in mind that cash compensation is only part of the true taxpayer cost. After just three years, a federal civil servant can receive 43 days of paid time off – that’s 10 holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days. We estimate these benefits costs taxpayers $22.6 billion per year overall.
Finding the information we have mapped was not always easy. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – a heavy-handed financial regulator created by the Obama Administration that claims to protect your interests – disclosed their employee names, but redacted the salaries you finance.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) redacted names on their own 77,116 employee salaries and on bonuses conferred to 2,257 employees.
The federal union contract shields from inspection $1.1 billion in so-called “performance” bonuses paid by all agencies. And annual pension payouts amounting to $125 billion across the federal civil service aren’t even subject to the Freedom of Information Act, a vital tool we used to ferret out government spending.
Not surprisingly, bureaucrats try to justify every dime of their compensation. A spokesperson from the Presidio Trust explained its impressive pay scales by arguing that Silicon Valley is actually to blame.
“We are competing for talent in the Bay Area job market,” she said. “Given the very high cost of living in the Bay Area, and the tight labor market, we make payments in addition to regular salary for the following reasons: signing, performance, retention and departure.”
Federal bureaucrats also give themselves stratospheric job performance ratings, which in turn fattens the pay and bonus levels. A Government Accountability Office audit published last summer (using 2013 data) found that 99.6 percent of all federal workers achieved job performance ratings of “fully successful.”
Of course, that’s impossible. Don Devine, director of the White House Office of Personnel Management during the Reagan administration, noted that’s a higher rating than the advertised purity of Ivory soap (99.3 percent).
It’s past time to take on the governing elite and reform federal civil service compensation and you should feel that way too. The source of the problem is often not the employees themselves, who are spread across the country, but politicians in Washington who refuse to set priorities and make hard choices.
You may feel like trying to put some reformist heat on them after checking out what’s happening in your own area.
What will you find in your own backyard? Whatever it is, let Washington know.
Call it entitlement reform for bureaucrats and the politicians who fund them.