Workforce

Senator offers advice to avoid furloughs

Sen. Tom Coburn

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?"

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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