From a report (Dec. 16) by the Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University:
There has been a substantial erosion in the real pay of top level federal officials over the last 20 years. The Presidential Appointees Project of the National Academy of Public Administration has shown that inadequate compensation contributes to high turnover among appointees. It also makes recruitment more difficult, especially for sub-Cabinet level positions....
If Congress should find it unacceptable to raise its own pay, it should either end linkage between legislative and executive compensation or modify existing linkage formulas. Alternatively, Congress might keep linkage as it is, accept higher salaries across-the-board, and bring its own income supplementation practices and rules into line with those of the executive branch. In this scenario, Congress would trade off outside income for higher salaries. Congress and the executive branch might also consider problem of pay over the long run, including indexation.
The basic point is that the president's ability to recruit and retain the outstanding people needed at the top levels of the executive branch has been hurt by outdated and inadequate salaries. The next president must somehow be given the ability to recruit and retain top-flight personnel. Money should never be a motive for people to enter public service; on the other hand, insufficient compensation should not deter people fro entering the government or cause them to leave it prematurely.