Forbes: The Swamp Grew – Even Under President Donald Trump 104_swamp

September 27, 2021 09:05 AM





By Adam Andrzejewski

Everyone from Ronald Reagan (1983) to Nancy Pelosi (2006) to Donald Trump (2016) issued calls to "drain the swamp." 

However, in a new oversight report by, Mapping The Swamp, A Study Of The Administrative State, we found that the federal agency payrolls continued to grow unabated. 

President Trump was holding the headcount of the executive agencies roughly flat through at least 2018. Then, the pandemic driven spending caused a massive federal hiring spree in FY2020.

Key Facts 

1. EXPENSIVE BUREAUCRACY: The federal disclosed workforce costs the American taxpayer $2.3 million per minute, $140 million per hour, and $1.1 billion per day.

In FY2020, the federal government disclosed 2.8 million employees — including 1.4 million executive agency bureaucrats; 698,547 DOD employees; and 678,537 USPS employees — for an estimated total compensation cost of $292 billion. (Formula: disclosed cash compensation: $225 billion plus an estimated 30-percent in benefits equals $292 billion). 

2. THE SWAMP GETS BIGGER: 1.4 million disclosed employees in the executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) rose to a modern-day high (2020) – up 3.7-percent from 1.35 million employees in FY2016. Veterans Affairs with 421,542 employees was the largest executive agency, and, since FY2016, headcount grew by 48,928 employees (13-percent). Homeland Security with 210,253 employees, grew by 26,290 employees (14.3-percent).


3. HIGHLY COMPENSATED BUREAUCRATS: 532,784 employees made $100,000 in the 122 executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) — from 406,960 employees in FY2016 (up 31-percent). 

Furthermore, 37,631 employees made $200,000 (up 52-percent) and 7,692 employees earned $300,000 (up 144-percent). Dr. Anthony Fauci was the most highly compensated federal employee — across all agencies — for the second year and earned $434,312.

4. A NEW MINIMUM WAGE: The average pay was $100,000 in 100 of 122 executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) and departments. 26,853 federal employees out-earned every state governor ($225,000 | New York). 

5. PAID TO STAY HOME: 44-days of paid-time off (PTO) on average for bureaucratsemployed in the executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) – 11 holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days. The estimated taxpayer subsidy of this benefit is $22 billion annually. 

6. THE $15 MILLION MAN: The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a quasi-public federal agency, paid their CEO Jeffry Lyash $15.5 million in salary, retirement and other benefits over a two-year period, FY2019-FY2020. The TVA is a federal entity, but doesn’t currently receive taxpayer funding. 

7. VA EMPLOYMENT FARM: Since 2012, Veterans Affairs added 106,037 new positions to payroll, yet only 6,674 were doctors (Medical Officers). Only one in every sixteen new positions were doctors. 

8. BLOATED WHITE HOUSE PAYROLL: The Biden White House is the most expensive in history with over 560 employees and $50 million annual payroll expense. By comparison, President Trump employed 377 staffers with an inflation adjusted $40 million payroll in his first year (2017). 

9. ARMED BUREAUCRATS: Federal employees (non-DOD) with firearm authority (200,000 ) now​ exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (186,000). Employees in 103 agencies with firearm authority include 69,000 at Department of Justice; 63,000 at Homeland Security; and even 4,547 police officers at Veterans Affairs and 2,159 special agents at the Internal Revenue Service. 

10. TRANSPARENCY PROBLEMS: 259,000 names were redacted accounting for an estimated $25 billion in cash compensation within the executive agency payroll (non DOD and USPS). The number of redactions grew from 3,500 in FY2016. Department of Defense: only disclosed the 698,547 civilian employees with salary, title and branch, but redacted all names. The U.S. Post Office disclosed 678,537 employees, but redacted all bonuses. 

In addition, another $225 billion in estimated compensation remains hidden and not subject to the oversight of this report: an estimated $100 billion in non-disclosed salaries of the 1,379,800 million active military members; and another $125 billion in undisclosed pension-retirement annuity payouts.

Further reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Highest Paid Employee In The Entire U.S. Federal Government

“The Federal Government's Use-it-or-Lose-it Spending Spree”

Duplicative Federal Programs Cost U.S. Taxpayers Much More Than $23 Billion a Year

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