May 16th, 2009
10:41 AM ET
9 years ago

State Department fixes wage error

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The State Department has revised a report that erroneously pegged the salaries of some foreigners working abroad at U.S. embassies and other places at less than $1 per day.

It's not $1 a day, it's $4 a day, the inspector general's office said Friday, two days after the report was released.

"We were given that information erroneously," inspector general spokesman Tom Burgess told CNN. "We know it is between three dollars and four dollars a day."

Apparently a currency conversion error was to blame, he said.

Other details of the report remain in place, including claims that some lower grade foreign nationals who work for the department earn so little that they must cut back to one meal a day and send their children out to peddle on the streets.

"We have no further corrections to make," Burgess said. "We stand behind the report."

The inspector general's report looked at how the United States pays more than 51,000 local, non-American employees in about 170 missions.

In addition to the hardship caused to the workers because of inadequate pay, the report found that the United States is losing staff to other higher-paying employers, and may not be able to fill vacancies with qualified people.

Filed under: State Department
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Bubba

    Gotta fix that – wouldn't do for the folks overseas to think we're all a bunch of Dubyas.

    May 13, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. BobAbrams

    So.....what exactly is the point of this get libs all fired up about something. Good job CNN

    May 13, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Kalara

    This has been true for some time. When I worked at in U.S. Embassies in the third world, some local employees had a choice between feeding their children or themselves.

    May 13, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Sick of Dirty Obama

    What do you expect under a corrupt administration like that of Barrack Obama?

    May 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. G. P. Montalvan

    In Havana, Cuba, the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) pays a government agency, CUBALSE, an average of around $450/month for each local worker supplied - and they use more than 200 local workers. But then CUBALSE turns around and pays each local worker an average of 225 Cuban pesos, which at the official rate of about 25 pesos per dollar, works out to $9 per month - 30 cents per day! (And the workers supplied by CUBALSE are mostly Cuban intelligence agents.)

    This scheme is applied by the Cuban government to all embassies and foreign investors, such as hotels, etc. (The Cuban workers at hotels are much better off because of tips.)

    May 13, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. Bob in Pa

    You can almost hear the liberal wheels turning can't you.

    That can't be, they need to be paid a living wage as if the resided in New York ! Why if we pay someone in another country wages equal to US salaries it will force wages up in that country, why we can wipe out poverty ....

    May 13, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Dave C - NJ

    LOL at "sick of dirty Obama"

    This has been going on for YEARS you fool.

    Certainly over the last 8! Get a clue.

    May 13, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Dave C - NJ

    bob in PA, what a slimebag conservative "religious" response.

    no "libs" have said any such thing. However your small minded selfish stance is obvious and predictable: Who cares about anyone other than the well-off. Drill Baby Drill. The Earth is only 6000 years old. Palin is smart. Cheney is a good person. Repeat. Lose IQ points. Repeat.

    May 13, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. mike

    why not make them all illegals and let them all get free healthcare.

    Yay Obama (please note sarcasm)

    May 13, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Tulsa

    LOL.... Listen to the Republicans cry! Whaaaa.... Scumbags. No wonder the world is happy we as a people have voted the corrupt Republicans out.

    May 13, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. TomJay

    We need to make sure these workers are unionized to ensure they are protected against abuse. We need to make sure we pay the workers a living wage comparable to what workers in the US earn.

    May 13, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    @ Bob Abrams

    Do you think that giving a 2.9 percent pay raise to an employee that is making a dollar a day is fair compensation for any kind of work done. This is an outrageous report and our government should be ashamed of itself for considering itself an advance nation while paying any human a dollar a day and in some cases less. Those are slave wages.

    May 13, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Samoset

    Too Boob in PA: You may want to rethink your nasty attitude before reporting to Saint Peter. This is not the answer to WWJD ...

    and to "sick "... didn't dawn on him that maybe ol' George Bush had the salary schedules all in place for the past 8 years ... nope – because "sick" and his sidekicks have hated Obama since before he was elected.

    Ignorance can be cured but stupidity goes on forever.

    May 13, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Simmy

    Sick of Dirty Obama....I'm sick of you, and other nasty evil minds similar to yours......

    First of all, President Obama's administration hasn't been in office long enough to change all of the bad policies left behind by Bush......I hope that this adminstration takes the time to look into the situation, and make much needed changes.....It's deplorable for anyone to work and not be able to support themselves and their family.....It's much worst when their employee is a government that's supposed to be concerned about the needs of its people......America is better than that....Even minimum wage is like living in luxury to some of these employees.....

    May 13, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    @Dave C in NJ
    You need to understand that people like "Sick of Dirty Obama" will be blaming President Obama for things that took place when he was 4 years old because they have nothing else to do all day.

    May 13, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Brian

    Principle of free market – we should pay NOT by the cost of living but by the cost of labor. If the job sucks so bad, nobody would take it; but if its suckiness is less than other crumby jobs, somebody will take it.
    By taking these calculated risks, we may lose some capable people, yet we are more likely to minimize cost.

    I am going to try to make my point clearer than CNN's article....don't make a big deal base on the salary, if the buyer is happy, who are we to complain about the item being overpriced.

    May 13, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. John

    don't have to pay wages equivalent to the US, but please at least pay people enough so they can eat and have a place to live. Especially since in many parts of the world, these people are in danger for working for us.

    May 13, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Karen from Charlottesville

    Actually, I have seen what happened in Haiti, where a well-meaning group agreed to pay higher than the going wage for workers. (that is to say, $5 rather than $3 a day) No doubt it was well-intentioned, but it wreaked havoc with the economy because it created competition with local businesses who could not afford to pay $5 a day. It created wage inflation that almost put some small local businesses under. These countries need their small businesses to be successful more than they need a foreign country to come in and pay a higher wage to a few individuals.

    As Americans, we need to be careful not to impose our expectations and cultural view on other countries – I do beleive that we should seek to honor their culture when we are guests in another country, and that speaks to not creating inflationary wages just because we think that, i our American eyes, their wagest are too low.

    May 13, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Joe

    First of all, why the mindless, emotional partisan bashing back & forth? I don't know why CNN deems this nonsense newsworthy. Vaguely suggest that we don't pay foreign nationals enough at our embassies. OK, thanks for that chunk of non-news.

    May 13, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. jc

    I'd be interested in seeing more details. A bunch of countries have per capita GDPs from $200-$1000/year. If a local is making $350/year and the per capita GDP for that country is $350, I don't see what the issue is – they are making what the average person in that country makes while doing basic, entry level no-skill required jobs (1-3).

    The review is probably a very complicated process because every country is different. They should be paid roughly what the individual would be paid if they got a similar job in their local economy. LEs 1-3 are not doing highly skilled jobs and don't have management or leadership responsibilities.

    May 13, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    And we wonder once again why we are seen as an exploitive, intrusive Empire!

    May 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. US

    But the benefits package must be killer, right?

    May 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. barking republican ankle biters

    Republicans would have people here working for nothing if they could,they wanted to bring back slavery so badly they could taste it.Vote for the "Card Check"and vote for workers rights,not Slavery.

    May 13, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Once You Vote Black

    Sick of Dirty Obama, either you we not willing or not able to do anything about him getting in. Either way, you vote did not count for much. Get over it or die from it.

    May 13, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Cfoster

    I guess Coporate America does the same thig why not the government taking advantage of lower payig employees of another country..

    May 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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