The top 1,000 federal salaries this year ranged from $216,345 to $350,000, with most of the highest earners working at the National Institutes of Health and at the Indian Health Service, according to the data. WikiOrgCharts, a company that seeks to connect businesses and people through a social customer relationship management tool, requested the information from the government through the Freedom of Information Act and developed a crowdsourced database that contains profiles of 1.2 million federal employees. The profiles list employees' names, title or job field, agency, and in many cases, their annual base salary.
"Some people can look at this and say these public servants make too much money," said Farhan Memon, WikiOrgCharts founder and chief executive officer. But Memon said many of the top earners are having a "generational impact" on the study of disease and could command much more in the private sector. "I don't know that you can put a price tag on that," he said.
Topping the 2011 list is Dr. Electron Kebebew, a medical officer at NIH who is widely regarded in the field of cancer research. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, garnered the No. 3 slot on the list, earning an annual salary of $335,000 in 2011. Fauci has led NIAID since 1984 and is one of the country's leading clinicians and researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS.
Other top earners included employees at the Farm Credit Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Memon said some people have contacted WikiOrgCharts requesting removal from the database, which anyone can access. But the information contained in it is public and most government employees on the list understand that, he said, adding that centralizing such data and making it easy to search improves government transparency. In addition, the database serves as a kind of LinkedIn or similar social media tool, helping people in and out of government connect with one another. For example, Memon said one government contractor used the database to figure out the appropriate federal contact, while another used the information as a recruiting tool to see how much a potential hire was earning.
WikiOrgCharts also created organizational charts with employee profiles for certain large private sector companies, including Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, Apple and Google.
Memon said he expects WikiOrgCharts will produce more lists and compilations based on the government data. "Once you have a data set, there are multiple ways to cut and slice it," he said.