1,024 of 1,031 Highest Paid Federal Employees are VA Doctors

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Dr. Thomas Burdon (photo: Stanford Hospital)

Doctors working for the Department of Veterans Affairs are dominating the ranks of the highest paid federal employees, according to a new federal salary database.


Of the top 1,031 highest salaries in federal service, 1,024 belong to “medical officers” employed by the Veterans Health Administration. Leading the way among those physicians is Dr. Thomas Burdon, a specialist in thoracic surgery based in Palo Alto, California, who makes $402,462 a year. The next highest paid is Dr. Thomas Cacciarelli in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who makes $873 less.


Government Executive reported that more than 16,900 federal employees made more than $200,000 in base salary last year. The database does not include the salaries of Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, according to Government Executive.


However, the three best-paid DOD personnel aren’t generals, admirals or anything like that. They’re football coaches. Army’s Jeff Monken tops the list with a guaranteed income of $1,680,000 in 2014, according to a survey by Newsday. He’s followed by Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo at $1,574,809 and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun at “only” $825,000.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

17,000 Federal Employees Earned More Than $200K Last Year (by Eric Katz, Government Executive)

Search Federal Pay

Dr. Thomas A Burdon MD (Vitals.com)

College Football Coaches Salaries (Newsday)

Doctors Overwhelmingly Dominate Top Federal Salaries List (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Med 8 years ago
In order to retain any sort of talent in the Medical field, you have to be willing to pay competitive wages. $400K for a well established CT surgeon is nothing, especially in California. As far as the football coaches go, again, the ballpark of $1.5M is also lower then average for coaches of competitive teams in the FCS. I agree, it's not great that the govt is spending so much money, but you can't just trim from the top. (Not that your article suggests such.)

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