Lawmakers are questioning the Office of Personnel Management on why it has not revealed the salaries of more than 200,000 federal employees.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, as well as other committee members from both parties, sent a letter to OPM Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan demanding information on the withheld data.
The letter cited a government watchdog group’s efforts over the last 11 years to promote government transparency by posting online the names, titles, agencies, salaries and bonus information for all federal employees.
This year, the group, Open the Books, was denied the salary information of 254, 839 federal employees.
"OpenTheBooks.com, summed up and posted online the salaries and bonus information for nearly every person employed in federal government agencies – a tally that mostly keeps growing and growing," the group said in a statement its website
, adding, "This year, our auditors filed our standard Freedom of Information Act request for the same information in fiscal year 2017 – and we got a big surprise."
By comparison, the previous fiscal year, only 3,416 salaries were redacted.
According to the letter
to McGettigan, the additional redactions have been attributed to a data release policy update and a finding by OPM that previous releases of salary information might not have followed protection guidelines.
"As a result, OPM has stated it will no longer release locality pay information and adjusted base pay information on the individual level for those positions and agencies in order to mitigate the concern of reverse engineering location data," the letter stated, adding, "Either OPM has been in error for the last 11 years or it is now."
The committee requests that OPM provide documentation by March 19 to explain the rational for the change as well as a briefing to follow.