Today, the Trump 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 418 White House employees as of June 28, 2019. Search the recent Trump administration (2017, 2018, and 2019) and Obama administration (2012 through 2016) payroll data posted at OpenTheBooks.com.
Over the past 12 months, Trump added an additional 44 employees to the White House staff. Last year, the president employed 374 staffers, and we applauded the president’s frugality in our editorial at Forbes.
This year, not only did the president add employees, but his total payroll increased from $35.2 million to $41.3 million. In FY2015, Barack Obama’s payroll was much larger: $40.9 million ($44.2 million, adjusted for inflation) with 476 staffers.
Trump’s White House payroll has been a leading indicator of his commitment to "do more, with less." In the first few weeks of his presidency, Trump issued an order mandating an executive agency hiring freeze. Trump asked his agency heads to "seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services…"
Leading by example, Trump has already saved taxpayers nearly $20 million and projected four-year savings could easily top $22 million. In 2017, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com forecasted a $22 million four-year savings.
The payroll discounts come from Trump’s refusal to take a salary, as well as big reductions in other areas including the absence of czars, expensive "fellows," and spending on First Lady of The United States (FLOTUS) staff.
Here are some key findings:
- There are 36 fewer employees on the White House staff under Trump than under Obama at this point in their respective presidencies. (In 2011, Obama had 454 employees for $37.1 million – adjusted for inflation, the payroll cost $42.2 million.)
- $2.9 million in annual payroll savings compared to the Obama 2015 payroll, inflation adjusted. In 2019, the Trump payroll amounts to $41.3 million for 418 employees. In 2015, the Obama payroll amounted to $44.2 million for 476 employees, adjusted for inflation.
- Twelve staffers are dedicated to the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama paid her 24 staffers $1.6 million collectively.
- Overall, 133 employees from Trump’s 2018 payroll of 374 employees no longer work at the White House. The employee turnover rate was 36-percent year-over-year.
- The most highly compensated White House employees under Trump are 22 assistants to the president who each earn $183,000.
- Additional top earning staff include John "Mick" Mulvaney, acting Chief of Staff ($203,500), and John Czwartacki, Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff ($239,595).
- This year’s list of key advisors still includes names such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Press Secretary), John Bolton (National Security Advisor), Lawrence Kudlow (Economic Advisor), Steve Miller (Policy Advisor), Kellyanne Conway (Senior Counselor), and Stephanie Grisham (incoming Press Secretary).
Our review of this year’s White House payroll confirms twelve staffers dedicated to First Lady Melania Trump. Last year, FLOTUS had ten employees which was an increase from her five-person staff in 2017. 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."
Starting in 2009, President Obama came under fire for hiring special initiative czars. Over Trump's first three years in office, we found no evidence of czars on the White House payroll.
While on the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to forego his paycheck. Article II of the U.S. Constitution, however, mandates a presidential salary.
During his time in office, the president donated his quarterly portions of his $400,000 salary to the National Park Service, Small Business Administration, Department of Interior, Department of Transportation, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and other agencies.
The rest of the Trump family is also leading by example by foregoing their salaries. First Daughter and Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump and Son-in-Law Senior Advisor Jared Kushner both refused a salary.
Although the White House personnel budget is an infinitesimal part of the $3.9 trillion federal budget, it is an important forecasting indicator showing Trump’s deep commitment to cut the size, scope, and power of the federal government and reign in waste.