Government agencies are continuing to post jobs and hire as usual despite the massive budget-slashing that kicked in over the weekend — even though many are now mulling furloughs for the employees they already have.
On Monday, numerous federal agencies posted more than 400 job listings, including positions at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Mint, Agriculture Department, and the IRS, The Washington Times reports.
“Every position you don't fill that isn't absolutely necessary is one less person that needs to be furloughed,” Steve Ellis, vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, told the newspaper.
It is difficult to pinpoint which agencies will be hit hardest with furloughs, but some will have no choice, experts say.
“Agencies have enormous discretion in this regard, but some are so predominantly personnel-driven that they have little choice but to furlough,” Patrick Lester, director of fiscal policy for the Center for Effective Government, told The Washington Post.
Those include the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Aviation Administration.
Other agencies will be able to escape letting employees go without pay for short periods of time.
The Government Accountability Office, the Small Business Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Agency for International Development all expect to meet cost-saving targets without resorting to furloughs, the Post reports.
But just how agencies decide on whether to issue furloughs is somewhat unnerving to policy experts.
“What’s amazing to me about all this is you’ve got the furloughs going on in the agencies and they don’t seem to be linked to anything other than an across-the-board strategy,” Paul Light, professor of public service at New York University, told The Washington Times.
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has asked the White House budget office to stop new hiring in low-priority jobs to preserve more important positions such as food safety inspectors and Border Patrol agents, the Times noted.
Meanwhile, some agencies are going out of their way to assure Americans they will be furlough-free for awhile.
According to Fox News, furloughs at the IRS will be delayed until summer, after the tax filing season ends. Acting Commissioner Steven Miller told employees he wants to minimize the impact on taxpayers and IRS workers.
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