That’s none of your- oh, maybe it is.

As I alluded to recently, I’ve changed jobs in the last thirty days. In doing so, I’ve become one of a very large group in our area – someone whose salary information is available to anyone with a FOIA request and an inkling of where to send it.

It hadn’t occurred to me when I took this job that this was the case, though if I’d had any reason to ponder it I’d have realized it. The point was driven home when I was googling around for some information on my new boss and hit upon a site where someone had published some FOIAed info, including her name and compensation. It got me to thinking today that we’re almost certainly the area with the highest density of people whose lives are laid bare in this way.

Every region has public employees, but in addition the usual local government, various state organizations, and some local transit labor we’ve got the Fed and local charities. Googling ‘senate staff salaries’ turns up the Legistorm page and you can tell that Vince Morris probably got paid about $80k a year (I’m extrapolating based on one quarter’s salary, though Legistorm warns me that may be inaccurate) in exchange for being asked several hundred times to comment on the significance of the phrase “don’t tase me, bro!”

Charities are less complete, but Guidestar can show you the IRS form 990s for an organization. Directors and trustees are at the back but there’s also the section that lists the “compensation of the five highest paid employees other than officers, directors, and trustees.” Bryan Detchon of the Better World Fund – you are SO picking up the drink tab if we go out for a beer.

If you’re directly in the public employ it’s a good bet someone could find what you make if they wanted to. It’s an odd feeling for someone who was raised to believe it’s gauche to talk about salaries.

2 Comments so far

  1. EdTheRed (unregistered) on October 1st, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

    The salary of every associate at every major law firm in town is available with a couple of mouse clicks. It’s not personalized, but you can tell a person’s class year from their firm bio, and the pay scales (which are done by class year) are widely available, so it’s very easy to figure it out.

  2. Wayan (unregistered) on October 1st, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

    To be accurate, every 501(c)(3) charity and almost all 501 class companies have to list the company-paid compensation of every officer, director, and trustee of the company, and the five highest paid employees making more than $50,000 per year.

    So if you make less than that, or there are at least 5 higher paid staff in the company, your compensation is not a matter of public record.

    Still, it is a good way to judge the pay scales of a organization, especially if its small.

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