Barack Obama has been reluctant to put boots on the ground — at least in the Middle East. Here at home, some 25,000 pairs of boots hits the ground running every day. The fighting force, designed to protect the federal government, is made up not of soldiers but of attorneys, and it has cost U.S. taxpayers $26.2 billion since 2007, according to a new report by the Open The Books.
“Today’s federal government is protected by a pervasive army of attorneys,” Open The Books founder and the report’s author Adam Andrzejewski told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “At a force size of 25,000, that’s bigger than a conventional combat division.”
Nearly half of the lawyers are based in Washington, according to the report, called “Lawyered Up: Federal Spending On Lawyers, 2007-2014.” Open The Books maintains a database containing 2.6 billion lines of government spending, representing the largest such digital resource in the world.
The federal portion of the database was made possible by the Federal Financial Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which was co-sponsored by then-senatorsTom Coburn of Oklahoma and Barack Obama of Illinois, and signed into law by President George W. Bush.
“Since 2007, federal spending on attorneys exceeded $26 billion in salaries and bonuses,” the report said. More than 50 salaries exceeded $250,000 and 19 bonuses were for more than $50,000 since 2007.
“In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency employed 1,020 attorneys while the Internal Revenue Service employed 1,423 attorneys,” the report said.
Open The Books also found:
- In 2014, the top federal lawyer salary was $266,469.
- Salaries paid to more than 50 attorneys on the federal payroll topped $250,000 since 2007.
- Since 2007, 19 bonuses exceeded $50,000. The top bonus was $83,900 and the second largest was $62,895.
- If the attorneys working for the federal government formed a nation-state, it would rank 158th in global GDP, with $3.3 billion in annual spending. That’s more than combined GDPs of vacation paradises St. Lucia, the British Virgin Islands and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
“The lawyers aren’t the problem per se,” the report said. “They simply serve at the pleasure of entrenched politicians and bureaucrats. Federal spending on attorneys both reflects and perpetuates the size, scope, expanse and inertia of today’s federal government.”
That’s why it’s essential for taxpayers to fight back with the best tools at our disposal – transparency and accountability. And that’s precisely what our report aims to do.
This report, by Ethan Barton, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.