Some time back I wrote a post inspired by reading the now-defunct OFHEO’s annual report. (If this image brings to mind the Saturday Night Live night skit in which William Shatner asks a Trekkie if he’s ever kissed a girl, it’s understandable). OFHEO, of course, was the now-defunct agency which non-regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It has since been folded into the Federal Housing Finance Agency (the otherFHFA which will have to fight being constantly confused with the Foot Health Foundation of America.) If you want to learn more about this FHFA, tough. It still doesn’t have a web site, after more than 18 months of planning and three weeks of actual existence. We do know, however, that Director Lockhart still runs the show, and that the Secretaries of both Treasury and HUD are on his board.
Anyhow, quick math led me to the conclusion that Director James Lockhart and his team spent $267,000 per employee during 2007. That seemed pretty pricey, as in a tech startup–which employs some folk with pretty scarce and expensive skills–we expect to spend $160-180k per head.
Now, George Will tells me in his Washington Post column that the most highly paid civil servant rakes in a mere $124,010 per year.
So let me get this straight. Let’s assume–reasonably and for easy math–that the average OFHEO staffer makes $100k per year, or 80% of the maximum. Gross that up by 20% for what I’m sure is a more than adequate benefits package.
That means OFHEO spent $143,000 for every employee from the Director to the receptionist–54% of its total expenditures–on what exactly? Maybe the overfishing of sturgeon in the Caspian is just government misinformation, and all that spare caviar really made its way to the OFHEO cafeteria? Aston Martin car allowances? A small air force, perhaps? All of the cotton-picking above?! Wait, I know–OFHEO did have a web site!! Those dad-burned things must cost a fortune!! Prudently, FHFA seems to cut that expenditure in its new lean and mean incarnation.
Crimeny. When the regulator is this mismanaged, what in God’s name did we expect from the GSEs?