Senator offers advice to avoid furloughs
Rather than force employees to take unpaid time off, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) suggests simply not hiring for some less vital positions.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has eliminated seven jobs in his congressional office, and he is surviving. In a letter sent Feb. 25 to the Obama administration, the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said agencies could manage too by choosing not to fill lower-priority jobs, and using that payroll to avoid furloughing or laying off employees in higher-priority roles.
Coburn even suggested several lower priority jobs agencies should not fill:
• A staff assistant at the Labor Department to answer phones, who could earn as much as $81,204 annually.
• Ten drivers for the State Department, whose pay could go as high as $26.45 per hour.
• A policy coordinator for the Health and Human Services Department to attend and facilitate meetings and coordinate HHS policies. That position's pay could be as much as $81,204 per year.
• A director of the Air Force history and museums policies and programs, to provide guidance of historical matters throughout the department. The director could earn as much as $156,300 per year.
• An analyst for the Marine Corps' legislative affairs office, who could earn $90,000 per year.
• A director for the Government Employee Services Division at the Agriculture Department, who could earn $179,700 per year.
The government, Coburn estimated, could redirect $1.4 million toward more-essential jobs by not filling "the jobs advertised in just these ten vacancy announcements."
Coburn asked: "Are any of these positions more important than an air traffic controller, a border patrol officer, a food inspector, a [Transportation Security Agency] screener, or a civilian supporting our men and women in combat in Afghanistan?"
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.