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The secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security receives the same salary as all the other members of the president's cabinet. Cabinet secretaries' salaries, and the salaries of their top deputies and assistants, are determined by the federal Executive Schedule. This pay structure applies only to presidentially appointed officials; civil servants' pay is determined by the General Schedule.
The Executive Schedule pay scale has five levels, with Level I being the highest-paid and Level V being the lowest-paid. The schedule appears in Title 5 of the U.S. Code. Salaries in the Executive Schedule are for the positions themselves, not for the individuals holding them. However, Title 5 gives the president the authority to designate no more than 34 other positions as Level IV and Level V. The designation can be made only when a new person takes the position; in other words, it can't be used to give someone a pay raise. And when that person leaves the position, it reverts to its original salary level.
Levels I and II
The secretary of Homeland Security is the only official in the department earning a Level I salary. As of 2011, the Level I salary was $199,700. The department has three positions at Level II, each earning a salary of $179,700. Those positions are the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, the undersecretary of Homeland Security for Management, and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is a unit of the department.
Levels III, IV and V
Homeland Security positions at Level III as of 2011, each with an annual salary of $165,300, are the director of U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services; the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the deputy administrators of FEMA; and the Homeland Security undersecretaries for national protection and programs, science and technology, and intelligence and analysis. Level IV positions, with a salary of $155,500 as of 2011, are the department's assistant secretaries, general counsel, civil rights officer, chief financial officer, chief information officer and chief medical officer, plus two positions in FEMA: the federal insurance administrator and the chief information officer. Level V positions carry a salary of $147,500, but as of 2011, the department had no Level V positions defined in the law.
Pay raises for Homeland Security officials on the Executive Schedule are tied to increases in the General Schedule (GS). These salaries are adjusted for inflation once a year; whenever GS employees are due a pay raise, all Executive Schedule salaries get adjusted as well. The amount of increase for the Executive Schedule is equal to the past year's change in the Employment Cost Index, which is a measure of how much employers in the private sector are paying for labor. However, by law, Executive Schedule salaries can never increase more than GS salaries.
Cam Merritt is a writer and editor specializing in business, personal finance and home design. He has contributed to USA Today, The Des Moines Register and Better Homes and Gardens"publications. Merritt has a journalism degree from Drake University and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Iowa.
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