USA Today has been doing some really fine work on government pay. The latest example is an article today reporting that there are "at least 17,828 federal employees whose annualized salaries totaled $180,000 or more in September 2010." More: "their ranks soared from the 805 with annualized salaries of $180,000 or more in 2005."
Among the 17,828 federal employees earning $180,000 a year or more are 598 SEC lawyers and 12,708 doctors at the Veterans Administration.
Then there's this:
James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that promotes conservative public policies, said many of the high-paid federal jobs are not overpaid — and may be underpaid — in comparison with the private sector.
Heritage, of all places, should know about private-sector compensation; its 2009 IRS Form 990 shows at least 20 employees earning more than $180,000 a year, led by the organization's president, Edwin Feulner, who received $989,634 in total compensation.