Government Compensation
in California

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why did the Controller’s Office create the Public Pay website?

A: The Controller created this site in the wake of the 2010 salary scandal in the City of Bell to promote government transparency and help prevent such problems from ever happening again.

Q: What authority does the Controller have to post the data?

A: The Controller requires local governments to submit annual compensation reports, under Government Codes section 53891 and 53892. The Controller is required to compile and publish the compensation data on an Internet Web site, under Government Code section 12463.

Q: Does the site include employees who work overtime and part time?

A: The site includes all employees with wages reportable on a Federal W-2 form.

Q: Why are wages for some positions greater than the maximum salary listed for the related classification?

A: Some individuals receive other forms of compensation, including bonuses or premium pay. Position listings do not distinguish between full-time and part-time employees. Contact the employing local government for more details.

Q: Why does the site have a disclaimer stating that the Controller’s Office is not responsible for accuracy of the information?

A: Data is self-reported by governments and is not verified by the Controller’s Office. For questions about a specific position, users are encouraged to contact the related entity.

Q: What if I just want to download raw data?

A: Click here to select which raw data to download.

Q: How often is the site updated?

A: The Controller’s Office works with government entities to obtain fresh data annually. Click here for a publishing schedule.

Q: Why doesn't the site have the same entity-type data for all years (For example, why is there no 2009 community college district data)?

A: The site has expanded over time to include more classes of data. Community college district data was introduced beginning with 2011 values.

Q: Does the site distinguish between compensation totals for full-service and contract cities?

A: No. Full-service cities have employees to handle vital services such as police and fire protection. Contract cities hire third parties to cover some or all of these services. On this site, only reported full- and part-time positions are listed. Contracted positions are not included. Therefore, a full-service city may have a higher compensation total than a contract city. Please contact individual cities to determine if they currently contract out some services.

Q: If an entity does not have any paid employees, does it still need to file a report for this website?

A: Yes. We require that governing officers are included in the report, even if they are unpaid.

Q: What should I do if the data appears to be inaccurate or if I have questions about the site?

A: Please submit your question here and Controller’s Office staff will contact you as soon as possible.