Government Compensation
in California

Glossary

Learn about commonly used terms and definitions used on this website.

Definitions

Activity

The type of public service provided by a local government (such as water, sewer or health services).

Applicable Defined Benefit Pension Formula

The pension formula that determines the monthly retirement payment for employees under a defined benefit plan.

Average Retirement and Health Cost

An employer or department's total reported retirement and health costs divided by the reported number of employees.

Average Wages

An employer or department's reported wages divided by the reported number of employees.

California Community Colleges

The largest system of higher education in the nation, with 2.4 million students attending 112 colleges in 72 community college districts. Campuses provide workforce training, basic courses in English and math, certificate and degree programs and preparation for transfer to four-year institutions such as the California State University and University of California.

California State University

The nation's largest four-year public university system, comprising 23 campuses and eight off-campus centers serving a total of 437,000 students. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, CSU attempts to accept applicants from the top one-third of California high school graduates.

City

A municipality usually governed by a charter. California includes 482 municipalities that call themselves either cities or towns. San Francisco is a consolidated city-county, and is reported as a city on this site.

County

California is divided into 58 counties, which serve as the default level of local government in the state. Counties have taxing and police powers.

County Seat

The city or town that serves as the administrative center for county government.

Deferred Compensation

The dollar amount paid by the employer toward the employee's defined contribution/deferred compensation plan. This includes 401(a), (b), (k), 403(b), and 457 plans.

Defined Benefit Plan Contribution

A portion of the total contribution paid by the employer towards the defined benefit plan for the year, which sometimes includes payment toward the unfunded liability. The defined benefit plan contribution is paid directly to the employer sponsored retirement plan and is not employee compensation for the calendar year. The amount of retirement benefits paid to an employee upon retirement are determined using a formula, based in part on an employee's age at retirement, final average salary, and length of service.

Department

A section of a larger organization that has specific duties.

Did Not File

The public employer, who has volunteered to submit a report, did not submit a compensation report to the Controller's Office. Also see "Failed to File".

Elected Official

A person elected to office or appointed to fill out the remainder of a term. Information on elected officials is not available before 2013.

Employee's Retirement Cost Covered

The dollar amount paid by the employer toward the employee's share of pension costs.

Employer

The name of the reporting entity (such as a city, county, special district, state department, etc.).

Employer Type

The type of entity reporting (such as cities, counties, special districts, state departments, etc.).

Failed to File

The public employer, required to submit a report, did not submit a compensation report to the Controller's Office. Also see "Did Not File".

Fairs and Expos

Includes positions at California county fairs and expositions. The network of fairs is made up of 80 organizations, including county fairs, citrus fairs, and the California State Fair at Cal Expo.

First 5

Includes positions at First 5 California and First 5 county commissions, which work to promote early development of children from newborns through age 5.

Health/Dental/Vision Contribution

The dollar amount paid by the employer toward the employee's health, dental, and/or vision care plans.

Judiciary

Includes positions at county superior courts, the state Supreme Court and the State Courts of Appeal. Information on judiciary is not available before 2013.

K-12 Education

Includes positions at public school districts, charter schools and county offices of education.

Local

All employers that report wage information to the Controller's Office. This does not include state departments or the California State University.

Lump-Sum Pay

The dollar amount paid to the employee for one-time cash outs (such as paid excess vacation and sick leave).

Multiple Positions

Refers to an employee who held two or more positions concurrently during the course of the calendar year.

Non-Compliant

The public employer filed a compensation report that was incomplete, was in a format different than the one requested by the Controller's Office, or was submitted after the reporting deadline and is currently in the review process.

Other Pay

The dollar amount paid to the employee for any other pay not reported as regular pay, overtime pay, or lump-sum pay (such as car allowances, meeting stipends, incentive pay, bonus pay, etc.).

For the University of California, the largest categories of Other Pay are health sciences faculty non-base compensation derived from clinical revenue and contracts and grants, as well as additional compensation to faculty for summer session teaching and externally-funded research conducted during the summer.

Overtime Pay

The dollar amount paid to the employee for working more than normal hours.

Position

The job title provided by the employer. Position listings on this website do not distinguish between full-time and part-time employees.

Regular Pay

The dollar amount paid to the employee for working regular hours.

Regular Pay Range for Classification

The minimum and maximum annual salary as reported by the local government for the particular classification. Position listings on this site do not distinguish between full-time and part-time employees.

Required

An employer that is mandated by government code to submit a compensation report to the Controller's Office.

Special District

An employer sanctioned under state law for the performance of local governmental functions within specified boundaries.

State Employees

Includes employees of state departments and statutory officers paid by the Controller. The following state positions not paid by the Controller are not included on this site at this time: staff of legislators and staff of the Lieutenant Governor.

Subdivision

Part of a state department.

Superior Court

California has 58 such trial courts. Starting with 2013 information, superior court employees are reported under superior courts instead of county governments.

Total Retirement and Health Cost

Amount paid by the employer toward the employer sponsored retirement plan plus health, dental, and/or vision benefits for the employee and dependents. This amount sometimes includes payments toward the unfunded liability of the employer sponsored retirement plan.

Total Wages

Total wages reported by the employer on a W-2. Amounts listed may include regular pay, overtime, cash payments for vacation and sick leave, and bonus payments. Position listings on this site do not distinguish between full-time and part-time employees.

Unfunded Liability

When a plan or pool's actuarial value of assets is less than its accrued liability, the difference is the plan or pool's unfunded liability.

University of California

The research arm of the state's three-tier public higher-education system, comprising 10 campuses serving a total of 234,000 students. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, UC attempts to accept the top one-eighth of California high school graduates.

Voluntary

An employer that voluntarily submits a compensation report to the Controller's Office.