See the new database of Nebraska state employee salaries
The Platte Institute, The Flatwater Free Press, and Code for Nebraska have published an online, searchable database of state government workers and their salaries.
You can find the site anytime at salaries.flatwaterfreepress.org.
The Platte Institute has long prioritized good governance in all our policy initiatives, and one of the fundamental principles of good governance is openness and transparency. Many state government agencies have moved towards more online transparency, but there is still a long way to go.
The bottom line is that government employees work for and are paid by the taxpayers, and the public has a right to know how their money is being spent. Without comprehensive transparency standards, taxpayers are left in the dark about what government does and how much money it taxes and spends.
This database contains a government record that any member of the public should have the right to access, but in practice, getting these records can sometimes be challenging even for media organizations, not to mention the average taxpayer. So, we’re partnering to make this information easily accessible and searchable for all.
When you dive into the database you will see that Nebraska state government is divided by agency, of which there are currently 68. That sounds like a lot, but many of these agencies don’t have many employees. For example, 24 of these agencies employ 10 or less employees. On the other end of the spectrum, 5 agencies have over 1,000 employees with Health and Human Services having the most, with 4,443 employees, and a total pay figure just shy of $200 million.
The database is divided into four different categories for each agency: the number of employees, the top pay, the median pay, and the total pay. Right now, there are not any time-series data. Everything is reported as of June 2021.
You’ll also see that in addition to the salaries there are the job titles and names of the public employees. We made the names easy to search so watchdogs, whether that be reporters, ordinary citizens, or policymakers themselves, can uncover stories that might otherwise be hidden. With this database, journalists can now easily and quickly fact-check claims about salaries. It serves no public purpose for people to believe false stories about government wages, so having the data easily accessible makes it easier for claims to be verified.
By partnering with The Flatwater Free Press, the Platte Institute can provide information in a clear, complete, and easy-to-understand way that prompts more accountability and openness. Government transparency is not a one-time action, but a philosophy, and we anticipate constant improvement in this database, and others to follow, which allows Nebraskans to hold government in check.