July 16


An ITE member who wishes to remain anonymous tipped me off that FoundationCenter.org posts the tax returns for non-profits.  Here are the recent tax returns for the Institute of Transportation Engineers: Download ITE Tax Return 2009Download ITE Tax Return 2010 and 
Download ITE Tax Return 2011.  The 2012 return isn't available yet.  Here's a summary of the data I found interesting - 

ITE Finance Summary
I thought this would be timely given ITE's member survey, the July 22nd Listening Session – Share Your Views as to How ITE Can Best Serve You, and the ITE Annual Meeting in Boston.  It would be nice if ITE posted it's finances the way the North Central ITE section does, but they don't as far as I can tell.

It's probably my Midwestern sensibility, but I was surprised by the total compensation of the top three employees.  Especially compared to these data points:

  • According to the Washington Times, William Howland's (Washington DC Public Works Director) 2011 salary was $155,573.  
  • According to Indeed the average salary for a traffic engineer in the United States is $89,000 and the average salary for a traffic engineer in Washington DC is $104,000.  
  • Maple Grove, MN (my old employer and a suburb that is doing well) – City Administrator salary is $139,915 and Public Works Director/City Engineer salary is $127,704.

The compensation in the table above is total compensation (which I assume includes health insurance, retirement, etc in addition to salary/bonuses).  The compensation may be in line with other professional society staff, but my hunch is our executive director and deputy executive directors are in the top 1% of compensation of the overall ITE membership.  I think that's worth debating.  Especially if you look at it this way – $44 of my dues every year are going to pay the top three staffers.

And speaking of ITE members, the ITE website lists "nearly 17,000 members."  I heard at the Midwestern we've been losing about 2% of membership per year since the recession.  It seems we have had a dip in membership since our peak of 18,595.  Yet another reason our leadership needs to be creative about trimming costs.  Instead of raising dues, they need to be lowered.

I should have prefaced all of this by saying I am not an accountant and it's possible I'm misinterpreting something listed in the IRS forms.  If I'm reading things correctly we have a cash reserve of about $3.6 million.  I'm a business owner – I understand we need a reserve to cover cash flow.  But that seems excessive to me and that's a lot of cash that could go to making Trip Generation free and/or greatly enhance our website.

And the last number that popped out at me – about $900k in expenses for the Journal.  Seems like we could save at least $500k if we switched to a default of having electronic copies only and have an opt in, print on demand extra subscription price for those who still want the hard copy.  For that $500k we could lower dues by $30 per member per year without an impact (reducing annual dues by about 10%).



  • Note, he is the Executive Director in Washington DC. That level of compensation is not that out of line I don’t think given what he is asked to do. He is lobbying for ALL of us. Man should be paid. This is not an easy person to find. And he has to live in the DC area which deserves hazard pay in my opinion

  • Mike,
    Everyone has the right to be paid market rate and I certainly extend that to our executive director and the rest of the ITE staff. There is room for debate as to what market rate should be for the top three ITE staffers.
    Article Two of ITE’s Articles of Association states, “No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall consist of the carrying on of propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.” The word lobby does not appear in our Constitution or Policies. Lastly – what about lobbying for our Canadian members (as well as other international members)?
    So there is a perception that ITE should be lobbying, but I would argue our current organization is NOT supposed to lobby. Therefore, being in Washington DC as a lobbyist is a red herring. I believe the pay of the Washington DC Public Works Director as well as pay in our profession is relevant to the compensation discussion.
    I’m up for having the debate around changing ITE to have a lobbying role, but that should be a vigorous debate and would require changing our documents.

  • Thanks for posting this Mike. The salaries (with benefits) sure do look way out of line to me.

  • Mike – I hope you don’t get sea-sick easily because you are really “rocking-the-boat” with this post!
    Every organization (private, government, non-profit, etc.) should have its employee pay scrutized to make sure the pay is in line with the value provided by each employee. Otherwise, you end up with the situation that occurred in Bell, California a few years ago.
    I don’t know enough about these salaries to comment on whether the value-obtained is worth the pay, but I am grateful that you posted the information for people to see.
    Keep up the good work!

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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