Whatever glow Sylvia Mathews Burwell took from her 96 to 0 Senate confirmation vote in April must have quickly disappeared as she stepped into the deep muck of government budgeting. Employee furloughs, resulting from sequestration budget cuts, were just beginning when she took over as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Not long after many federal employees finished taking their unpaid leave days, discussions about a temporary budget measure to keep the government open were getting hot. Those discussions, of course, went nowhere and the nation was dragged through 16 days of a partial, yet painful, pointless and partisan government shutdown that ended Thursday.
On Friday, Burwell, who was deputy OMB director among other positions during the Clinton administration, discussed the “lapse in appropriations,” as the OMB prefers to call it, and the future. One thing the future might hold, she said, is more furloughs. She also discussed the public’s trust in government, federal workplace morale and the impact of the shutdown on employee recruitment.