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The Big Money

Snowden was reputedly taking home $200K which is considerably more than a system admin would normally make $100K is a good salary for a UNIX admin.

Like many people he is described as a consultant but he really wasn't. He was an NSA employee who was being paid through a contract with Booze Allen. He was what we used to call a 'Temp'. But in many government offices they can't pay a commercial salary for a position so they pay twice to three times as much to hire them as a 'consultant'.

So the government won't pay a commercial rate for employing technical staff and they pay double to hire them through an agency.