After Outcry, New CDC Director Asks for and Gets Salary Cut

Marcia Frellick


April 30, 2018

After an outcry among some Senate Democrats, the salary of the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, MD, will be reduced by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to media reports.

Redfield, a prominent HIV/AIDS researcher who has led the CDC since March, is paid $375,000. In comparison, his predecessor, former CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD — who resigned in January after about 6 months on the job after concerns arose regarding conflicts of interest relating to some of her personal investments — earned $197,300. Redfield's boss, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, makes $199,700.

Redfield's salary was established through a program to recruit high-level scientists for government jobs, but the amount came under harsh scrutiny over the weekend. HHS has not yet reported what his new salary will be.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) wrote in a letter to Azar on April 26: "It is difficult to understand why someone with limited public health experience, particularly in a leadership role, is being disproportionately compensated for his work as compared to other accomplished scientists and public health leaders in comparable roles within the federal government."

The New York Times reported that an HHS spokeswoman, who declined to be named, wrote in an emailed response to questions from the New York Times, "Dr Redfield has expressed to Secretary Azar that he does not wish to have his compensation become a distraction for the important work of the CDC. Therefore, consistent with Dr Redfield's request to the Secretary, Dr Redfield's compensation will be adjusted accordingly."

According to his HHS biography, Redfield was founding director of the Department of Retroviral Research within the US Military HIV Research Program. He retired after 20 years of service in the US Army Medical Corps. He cofounded the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology and served as the chief of infectious diseases and vice chair of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

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