Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has asked nine federal agencies to disclose how many employees on their payrolls earn more than $100,000. He said he is concerned with spiraling federal salaries in the midst of a deep recession. (File / Getty Images)
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has asked nine federal agencies to provide data on the number of federal employees they employ who earn more than $100,000.
The investigation stems from Barton's concern that salaries have increased for federal employees at a time when many Americans are losing their jobs.
Barton asked the agencies to disclose whether funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "was used to augment already-high federal salaries rather than to stimulate the lagging private sector or to fund critical infrastructure projects."
Barton said he was concerned by recent news articles, including one by USA Today, reporting that the number of $100,000-plus earners in government has spiked in the last two years, a time when many Americans have lost their jobs or saw little if any increases in pay because of the recession. USA Today reported in December that the number of federal employees who earned $100,000 or more increased from 14 percent to 19 percent in the first 18 months of the recession — and that did not count bonuses or overtime pay.
"This disparity between public- and private-sector compensation for comparable work leads us to question the basis for these salaries and raises, especially during an economic recession when countless Americans have either lost their job or must accept sharp reductions in pay to keep their jobs," Barton said in his letters to the head of the nine agencies.
The USA Today article reported that the Transportation Department, for instance, had one person earning $170,000 in 2007 — 18 months later, the department reported having 1,680 employees earning that amount.
In his letter to agencies, Barton asked how many of their employees now earn salaries and bonuses totaling more than $100,000; $140,000 and $180,000.
Barton also asked each agency to provide him the average salary earned by its Senior Executive Service members. He also asked for names and job titles of federal employees at those agencies who are responsible for managing economic stimulus funds. He also asked agencies to declare any work they have outsourced involving the management or dispersal of stimulus funds. He asked for a list of all professional service contracts the agencies awarded in the last three years for professional services valued at $100,000.
The agencies Barton queried are: the Health and Human Services Department; Energy Department; Treasury Department; Commerce Department; Consumer Product Safety Commission; Environmental Protection Agency; Federal Communications Commission; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and Federal Trade Commission.