The importance of transparency in government employee compensation

Rio Grande Foundation and its investigative arm, the New Mexico Watchdog, were recently the subject of a syndicated opinion piece that decried our efforts to re-create New Mexico’s Sunshine Portal by posting our own website with the names and salaries of all state government workers.

I responded with a letter to the editor of several papers that ran the column. It can be found below:

I appreciate columnist Merilee Dannemann’s concern over efforts by both Gov. Martinez’s office and the Rio Grande Foundation to post government employee pay on the Internet and to keep it there despite opposition from government employee unions.

The reason we have been so determined to keep this information available is that unlike traditional businesses where shareholders are the owners, in government, the ultimate “owners” are the people at large. In no other business do the owners have no idea what their workers are making. Ideally, in addition to simple pay, taxpayers would also be able to find out details on the pensions and benefits available to government workers.

If, as a government worker, you don’t like this, you don’t have to work in public service.

It is worth noting that New Mexico is by no means the only state to post public employee salaries on the Internet. Dozens of states do this and, as Dannemann mentioned, the information is already publicly-available upon request. I have not heard of one reported incident of identity theft nationwide.

From a “good government” perspective, transparency in compensation can lead to better understanding of how compensation is determined, whether it is indeed fair, and whether government workers are paid more or less than their private-sector counterparts. This is valuable information and can lead to more efficient government.

This is the 21st Century. It is an information century. My salary, like that of other non-profit CEO’s is available online as well. Check

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4 Replies to “The importance of transparency in government employee compensation”

  1. The part the unions don’t like is that the taxpayers can find out that yes, government workers ARE paid better than the people who are taxed to support them and they also do less work for that money. It is time to reduce government employee salaries across the board to make them competitive again and not provide an overpaid haven for government employees to hide their make-work jobs and salaries from taxpayers.

  2. It is funny, that this is such an important item for the Tea Baggers. I personally don’t care what Joe or Mary are making while working for the state. This is just another noise maker and distraction that the far right thinks makes them feel more righteous than the rest of us.

    1. It’s funny that zero transparency is such an important item for the Socialists to defend.

      And, it’s only natural that eunuchs, like Anderson Cooper, would hold a deep-seated resentment towards those possessing the elements needed to teabag, but I personally don’t care if what Joe or Mary is making is made publically accessible, while they work for the state.

      The agency problem is just another in a long string of problems to have become an unchecked, imbalanced, set of issues for leftists to keep swept under their dirty little rug, and due to a purposeful lack transparency. “Yeah, don’t look behind that curtain, there’s nothing to see, here, folks.”

  3. It is not funny that whenever defenders of the leftist status quo seek to justify their advocacy of secret government, they refer to anyone who wants honest open government as “teabaggers”.

    Their smug derision of anyone who seeks to overturn their decades-in-the-making socialist, secret government is very revealing as to their anti-american motives.

    In this crude rant, Elrod sounds like that loser actress Garafolo (or is it giraffalo)? Ah who cares.

    Just keep putting the salaries in the media. If they whine, they can always go into the private sector. If they are really as good as they would like us to believe they are, they could excell in the private sector, where their salaries are not paid for by stolen tax money.

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