April 2, 2013

Regarding the March 29 front-page article “For federal workforce, furlough terrain is uneven”:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will close the entire agency for seven days to comply with sequestration requirements. According to the agency’s chief human capital officer, “The Department has over 9,000 employees. Multiplying the number of employees by seven days would mean that there would be 63,000 scheduling decisions that would need to be made over a six-month period.”

However, all full-time federal employees get at least 13 days of annual leave per year, with three-year employees getting 19 days and 15-year veterans as much as 26 days annually. So as a matter of course, HUD managers must make somewhere between 117,000 and 234,000 such decisions every year. With all that practice, it’s hard to see why another 63,000 couldn’t be handled.

On the other hand, maybe closing the entire agency for seven days is the best course after all. It will be interesting to see whether anyone notices.

Scott Sitzer, Arlington