Photo courtesy of the White House, public domain
By Adam Andrzejewski
On Christmas Eve, Dr. Anthony Fauci turned 81. However, he is not retiring just yet. If he did, Fauci would reap the largest federal retirement package in U.S. history.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com estimate Dr. Fauci’s annual retirement would exceed $350,000. Thereafter, his pension and benefits would continue to increase through annual cost-of-living adjustments. Fauci has 55 years of service as a federal employee.
For the second year in a row, Fauci was the most highly compensated federal employee and out earned the president, four star generals, and roughly 4.3 million of his colleagues. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Fauci earned $434,312 in 2020, the latest year available, up from $417,608 in 2019.
Fauci is currently the Chief Medical Advisor to the President. However, his big salary boost came in 2004 under the George W. Bush Administration (as we reported earlierat Forbes) when Fauci received a “permanent pay adjustment” for his biodefense work. In January 2000, Fauci was also appointed to the Ready Reserve Corps, a corps of “officers on full-time extended active duty.”
$340,000-$350,000 each year in federal retirement payments
Federal employees with Fauci’s length of service can retire to earn “80 percent of [their] high-3 average salary, plus credit for [their] sick leave,” according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
In November, we filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to determine Dr. Fauci’s currently unpublished 2021 salary, job description, royalties, conflict of interest and financial disclosures, and employment contract. The case moved quickly and the federal judge ordered production starting on February 1, 2022.
So, at this point, we can use only the last three published years of his salary — 2018: $399,625; 2019: $417,608; and 2020: $434,312 — to calculate his potential retirement earnings.
Dr. Fauci earned a total of $1.252 million from 2018-2020 in salary as a federal employee.
If he’d left federal service at the end of FY2020, figuring 80% of his highest three-year average, would mean a federal pension of $333,745 a year, plus cost-of-living increases (($1,251,545/3) x 80% = $333,745).
However, Fauci’s unpublished FY2021 and FY2022 salaries are likely commensurate, if not higher than his 2020 salary. Therefore, his retirement pay would be closer to $347,500 a year. (($1,302,936/3) x 80%).
(We requested both Dr. Fauci’s FY2021 and FY2022 salaries — fiscal years that start on October 1 respectively. We will update the column if NIH responds to our comment request.)
Additionally, Dr. Fauci is likely eligible for an annuity, paid out by the federal government. After serving 10 years, federal employees are eligible for “2 percent of [their] high-3 average salary for each year.” Dr. Fauci has more than surpassed the 10-year-minimum work requirement, and if he retired last year he could have drawn down at least an extra $8,344 a year (($1,251,545/3) x 2% = $8,344). If he leaves at the end of this month, that figure is likely closer to $8,575 a year in annuity payments, assuming his salary did not go down in 2021.
While federal benefit calculations are lucrative for someone in Fauci’s long-serving role, there is a potential twist…
Dr. Fauci was appointed in 2000 to the Ready Reserve Corps. The U.S. Code contains some different retirement calculations for Corps officers. Corps officers’ retirement pay involves calculating the top 36 months (vs. CSRS’s top 3 years), which may or may not make a difference, assuming Fauci’s long service and service credits as a federal employee qualify him for retirement under this system.
After passage of the Affordable Care Act, and subsequent authorizing provisions in the CARES Act, the Reserve Corps was folded into today’s Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service “Ready Reserve Corps,” in which Fauci presumably continues to serve. Its group of reserve officers serving in other roles are subject to intermittent involuntary deployment (“call up”) to bolster the available workforce for public health emergency missions.
But…Fauci has no plans to retire
Why not retire, ABC’s Jonathan Karl recently asked Dr. Fauci:
“There’s no way I’m going to walk away from this until we get this under control. I mean, that’s the purpose of what we do. That’s – that’s our mission in life. In the middle of it, I’m not going to walk away.
“You know, we’re in a war, Jon. It’s kind of like we’re halfway through World War II, and you decide, well, I think I’ve had enough of this. I’m walking away.
“You can’t do that. You’ve got to finish it — and we’re going to finish this and get back to normal.”
That echoes what he told reporters last month:
“I’m the head of an institute that actually played the major role in the development of the vaccines that have saved now millions of lives from COVID-19,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview. “I’m the director of the institute that has now been very important in the basic research in leading to the drugs that will now have an important impact in the treatment of COVID-19. That’s what I do.
“So, I’m going to keep doing that until this COVID-19 outbreak is in the rearview mirror, regardless of what anybody says about me, or wants to lie and create crazy fabrications because of political motivations[.]”
Why the biggest federal salary of them all?
Documents released to our non-profit organization OpenTheBooks.com reveal that Dr. Fauci was approved for a “permanent pay adjustment” in excess of his regular salary in December 2004, to “appropriately compensate him for the level of responsibility… especially as it relates to his work on biodefense research activities.”
From 2004 through 2007, Fauci received a 68-percent pay increase from $200,000- to $335,000-a year. This award was permanent and carried forward through 2020.
Serving almost 55 years, Dr. Fauci is one of the longest-serving federal employees. Dr. Fauci first joined the NIH in 1966, as part of an intramural research program known as the “Yellow Berets.” In 1970, he left for a year and a half to serve as Chief Resident at the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center. In 1971, he returned to NIH as Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation. In 1984, Fauci was named director of the NIAID, a position he still holds today.
More Fauci records are forthcoming
On January 27 and again on May 17, 2021, we asked NIH for Dr. Fauci’s fiscal year 2020 and 2021 financial and conflict-of-interest disclosure forms; job descriptions; royalty payments; and all employment contracts, amendments, modifications, and addendums.
Dr. Fauci is required by federal law to file these forms with his employer, the NIH. After NIH failed to produce most of the requested documents, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit represented by Judicial Watch on October 28, 2021.
To say that that the details of Dr. Fauci’s employment are of the public interest – after almost two years of government decisions influenced by him – is an understatement.
The Fauci legacy
Few could credibly claim someone staying in federal service for approximately 55 years is “in it for the money,” though Dr. Fauci’s salary as the highest in the government would not be a disincentive to his tenure.
- “Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Highest Paid Employee In The Entire U.S. Federal Government,” Forbes, January 25, 2021.
- “Dr. Anthony Fauci Received Big Pay Increase To Prevent Pandemics,” Forbes, October 20, 2021.
- “Dr. Anthony Fauci’s 400 Media Events Cost Taxpayers During The Pandemic,” Forbes, June 15, 2021.
- “Judicial Watch Sues on Behalf of OpenTheBooks.com for Fauci Financial Disclosure Records and Royalties Paid to NIH Employees,” October 28, 2021.
- Retirement Services: CSRS Information, OPM.gov
- Ready Reserve Corps Fact Sheet and background
- Ready Reserve Corps retirement calculations for Corps officers retirement pay
- Salary history of Dr. Anthony Fauci, 2010-2020, OpenTheBooks.com.