By Adam Andrzejewski
During President Joe Biden’s first two-years, he spent $100.7 million on the largest White House payroll in American history, based on headcount.
No White House ever employed 500 staffers. The Biden White House employed 560 (FY2021) and 474 this year (2022). In 2022, the headcount dropped by 86 employees.
Biden employs 100 more staffers than Trump (374) (FY2018) and five more than Obama (469) (FY2010) at the same point in their respective presidencies.
There was 39.3-percent turnover in White House staff, year over year. 220 employees from last year are no longer on payroll. This mirrored the exact same turnover percentage as the worst year of the Trump administration (2018).
The costs over the first two-years of the Biden administration exceeded Trump ($85.1 million) by $15.6 million; but the costs were $5.7 million less than Obama ($106.4 million), adjusted for inflation. (However, Biden didn’t disclose the pay of 16 staffers.)
Today, the Biden administration released its annual report to Congress on the White House Office Personnel. The payroll data includes employee name, status, salary, and position title for all White House employees as of July 1, 2022.
Search the all White House payrolls from 2009 through 2022 including Obama, Trump, and Biden administration payrolls posted at OpenTheBooks.com.
Download a free copy of our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – White House Payrolls (2009-2021).
The large Biden White House payroll had been a leading indicator of his commitment to expand the federal bureaucracy at all levels. For example, in the first nine days of his presidency, Biden issued many executive orders expanding the size, scope, and power of the federal bureaucracy.
The most highly compensated White House Biden staffer?
The top paid is Francis S. Collins ($300,000), Acting Science Advisor To The President — the immediate-former director of the National Institutes of Health and one of 1,805 third party royalty recipients at the agency. The second most highly paid is Luisa M. Paiewonsky ($191,300), Senior Policy Advisor for Transportation.
The two top-paid employees from last year Molly Groom ($185,656), Policy Advisor For Immigration; and Elizabeth Hone ($183,164), Senior Policy Advisor For Broadband are not with the administration any longer.
Other top paid employees include the Biden policy czars.
Biden doesn’t disclose his issue advisors as “czars.” However, he employs 91 special assistants to the president on policies ranging from homeland security to criminal justice and guns to climate policy and, separately, climate finance.
Critics at Politico have already questioned, “How many czars does the Biden administration need?”
Starting in 2009, President Obama came under fire for hiring special initiative czars. From 2017-2020, we found no evidence of “czars” on Trump’s payroll.
Here are some important facts we learned from the payroll release today:
Hires include 271 female staffers ($27 million salaries) vs. 200 male staffers ($19.6 million salaries). In terms of top staffers -- Special Assistants to the President -- there are 53 female ($6.4 million salaries) vs. 38 male ($4.4 million salaries). Three staffers had gender-ambiguous names and could not be verified.
Counts of the “Assistants to the President” – the most trusted advisors to the president - are approximately the same (22) with Biden as Trump (22-23) and Obama (20-24). This year, twenty of these advisors make $180,000 and two make $168,000.
This year’s list of key advisors includes names such as Ron Klain (Chief of Staff), Susan Rice (Domestic Policy Council), Karine Jean-Pierre (Press Secretary), Jacob Sullivan (National Security), Kate Bedingfield (Communications Director), Mike Donilon (Senior Advisor), and Steve Ricchetti (Counselor).
In the Trump second-year, Lawrence Kudlow (Economic Policy), Mercedes Schlapp (Senior Advisor), and Sara Sanders (Press Secretary) and 19 others made salaries of $179,700.
In Obama’s second-year, Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor) and 23 others held the title with top pay of $172,200.
Like most presidents, Joe Biden doesn’t donate his $400,000 salary. Donald Trump was the first since John F. Kennedy to donate his pre-tax quarterly salary to government agencies.
Comparing the staff headcounts of the First Lady payroll. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was heavily criticized for her 24-member staff in 2009 including assistants, advisors, schedulers, directors, deputies, associates, social and press secretaries, and other "helpers."
We were able to tie out only eight staffers working for Dr. Jill Biden this year. Many of the staffers are not tagged to the First Lady in the disclosure.
If you were expecting to review the employees of the Vice President, no luck. Veep employees are not included with the White House payroll release.
In fact, the Office of Vice President makes the claim that they are exempt from releasing any information regarding their payroll.
We disagree. It will take a lawsuit to settle the question: Is the Office of Vice President subject to the Freedom of Information Act?
Read our oversight report covering all aspects of the issue or watch our video summary here.
Although the White House personnel budget is an infinitesimal part of the $6.011 trillion federal budget in FY2022, it is an important forecasting indicator showing Biden’s commitment to expand the size, scope, and power of the federal government.
Note: we requested comment from the White House and will update the piece if there is a response. All inflation adjusted numbers cited use the US Bureau of Labor Statistics trailing 12-month inflation through May 2022 (8.6-percent).
OpenTheBooks Oversight Report: White House Payroll (2009-2021) | Published June 2022
OpenTheBooks Oversight Report: Office of Vice President Payroll (2021) | Published June 2022
Forbes: Biden’s Bloated White House Payroll Is Most Expensive In American History | July 1, 2021
Forbes: Trump’s Leaner White House 2020 Payroll Saved Taxpayers $23.5 Million Since 2017 | June 30, 2020
Forbes: Trump's Leaner White House 2019 Payroll Has Already Saved Taxpayers $20 Million | June 28, 2019
Forbes: Trump's Lean White House 2018 Payroll On-Track To Save Taxpayers $22 Million | June 29, 2018
Forbes: Trump's Leaner White House Payroll 2017 Projected To Save Taxpayers $22 Million | July 2, 2017
OpenTheBooks.com – We believe transparency is transformational. Using forensic auditing and open records, we hold government accountable. In 2021, we filed 47,000 FOIA requests and successfully captured $12 trillion government expenditures: federal spending; 49 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America. Our works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, NBC News, FOX News, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), & many others.
Our organization accepts no taxpayer funding and was founded by CEO Adam Andrzejewski. Our federal oversight work was cited twice in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida posted on YouTube received 3.7 million views.