Monday, May 23, 2011

Searchable State Employee Salary Database

For those of you that know me, you can imagine me as a curious little kid. So when I was about four years old, I was learning about numbers and money so one night at the dinner table I blatantly asked my father how much money he made. The room went silent and my dad said it wasn't polite to ask that question. Well if my dad was a state employee in Maryland now I wouldn't have to go through the impropriety of asking. I can just find the figure online thanks to the Baltimore Sun.

As I was reading an article on the Baltimore Sun's website about how Gov. Martin O'Malley makes less than many University System of Maryland VIPs, I noticed a sidebar that invited me to search a database of all state employees' pay. I clicked on this link and discovered that I can search salaries by name. So now my neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else can find out how much money I make. As a librarian, I generally like information to be freely available, but this creeps me out a bit and seems like a violation of my privacy. If my census record must be kept confidential by law, why not my pay too? I can see the value of aggregate data and that should be available, but pay data on an individual, identifiable level just seems wrong to me.