The Federal Reserve Board is finally giving the public a peek at its payroll.

After refusing for six months to say how much it pays its employees, the central bank revealed that its 10 best-paid employees made a total of $1.7 million in 1995.

That's just under the $1.73 million pulled in last year by the top 10 at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, but ahead of the $1.67 million earned by the similar group at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the $1.54 million paid the Office of Thrift Supervision's 10 top staff members.

The central bank's highest base salary - $170,700 - was earned last year by 12 executives, including Richard Spillenkothen, director of bank supervision and regulation, and Griffith L. Garwood, director of consumer and community affairs.

Mr. Spillenkothen's deputy, Stephen C. Schemering, was paid $163,200 in 1995. By comparison, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan makes $133,600 a year, and the board's governors are paid $123,100.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, American Banker first asked last August for a breakdown of salaries paid by all the banking agencies, including the Fed and its 12 reserve banks.

The OCC, OTS, and FDIC all complied with the request.

But the Fed refused to do anything more than release a chart showing the number - not the names or titles - of employees being paid more than $100,000. This list was broken down by salary ranges in increments of $10,000.

An exchange of letters under the information act followed, and this month the Fed agreed to release the titles of its 20 highest-paid employees along with their salaries. The Fed would not, however, attach employees' names to that list. That said, the Fed did separately list the names and titles of its senior officers.

To figure out who made how much, the titles on the first sheet were matched up with the names from the second. For example, the Fed said the assistant to the board for public affairs makes $170,700. The other list shows the person holding this job is Joseph R. Coyne.

The Fed still refuses to release specific salary information on employees at the reserve banks.

"The salaries of Federal Reserve Bank employees are considered to be personal financial information, the release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," stated an April 3 letter from the Fed board's deputy secretary, Jennifer J. Johnson.

But the Fed said last fall that nine reserve bank employees made more than $180,000 and 35 made between $150,000 and $180,000.

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