Tax Dollars-a Lot Of Them-at Work

A Jeopardy quiz: In the category of federal jobs, this position pays almost $20,000 more than the vice president's salary. No, sorry, it's not the president. He gets $400,000. It's the chief information technology job for the Comptroller of the Currency at $231,000.

Sound extravagant? It's not, says a department spokesman, who argued that it's hard to find good IT people. "What we pay our folks doesn't come close to what Wall Street does," says Kevin Mukri. And Comptroller isn't the only one.

Mukri says competing agencies like the Federal Reserve pay the same to stifle competition. He adds that while the pay can go as high as $231,000, as advertised in newspapers, Currency voluntarily caps the salary at the vice president's pay, now $212,100.

And anyway, says Mukri, people don't go to Currency for the money. "It's the work that drives the people."

By Paul Bedard