While Feinberg has no power to set pay at these 419 companies, he could expose companies for paying out lavish sums of money as the firms took taxpayer aid in the wake of the financial meltdown. The "name and shame" strategy could ultimately result in firms returning bonuses or salaries.
"Do not underestimate the bully pulpit. The bully pulpit has worked well, I think, so far in what I'm doing," Feinberg said.
As required by the 2009 stimulus package, Feinberg will try to negotiate "appropriate reimbursements" to taxpayers if the payments are deemed "inconsistent with the public interest," he said.
"I have no enforcement authority as to this look back." Feinberg said, "All I can do is review the data and...go to any of those companies and request further information and reimbursement."
Feinberg said Bank of America and Citigroup, in addition to the five companies he set pay caps for today, will face "higher scrutiny," due to the large size of their federal bailouts.
The companies will be required to respond to Feinberg's letter within 30 days. It is expected to take another one to two months for Feinberg to complete his review and submit it to the Treasury Department.
In an interview with ABC News last October, Feinberg said he hoped that other companies outside his jurisdiction would adopt his pay guidelines.
"I'm hoping that…other companies will voluntarily see the wisdom of the way we've structured compensation – less cash, more long-term stock," he said. "Hopefully others will see the wisdom of this and follow suit."
Feinberg noted that his job demands that he try to find the middle ground between public anger at Wall Street and the financial firms' need to compete in a competitive industry.
"I've tried to balance both sides, listening carefully to what is said in the way of citizen anger and also the statute, which requires that these companies stay in business and thrive," he said.