Letter: Coburn's math doesn't add up

Regarding "Senator: Fed workers miss millions of hours": I replied to a similar article in Government Executive magazine and asked Sen. Coburn several questions about his study. I think his study is a cheap shot at the federal government that lacks merit. I even went to the trouble of assembling data to answer the major question that I posed so I would not require him to do any hard thinking.

Here's what I found from Office of Personnel Management statistics and my own calculations. The federal government employs roughly 2.7 million civilians who work more than 5 billion hours a year (if one factors out annual leave and does not include the federal holidays most Americans take and sick leave). Coburn notes that federal government workers were AWOL 3.5 million hours in 2007 and makes a big deal out of it, saying that U.S. businesses would find that unacceptable.  

However, when one does the math, the 5.5 million hours represent much less than 1 percent of their total working hours in 2007. Is Coburn saying private-sector employees don't take long lunches one in a awhile or leave early when the boss is not looking? How does he define AWOL? Does it really matter when these absences are infinitesimally small?

Anonymous


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