“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 6-month period.”
Allowing employees to choose furlough days is “not administratively feasible,” Cole wrote, and could lead to a “daunting” number of payroll errors.
Agency managers have agreed to speed up the approval process for outside employment, though a request by an Air Force base in Minot, N.D., for separate weeks off so its employees could get temporary work in the nearby booming oil town was denied.
Employees can donate days to ease their colleagues’ load, but they cannot choose which colleagues.
Park Police woes
Among the law enforcement employees who will not get a break are the Park Police. The department must slice $5 million from its $102 million budget and said it must furlough all 767 employees for 14 days. This is in contrast to the parks themselves, with the National Park Service freezing seasonal and permanent hires and making other cuts to avoid furloughs.
Officer Dave Nichols, who patrols Washington’s monuments on horseback, said furloughs will cost him $5,000. Among his biggest concerns about losing pay is his wife, a teacher in Calvert County and two-time breast cancer survivor. He worries about another health scare. The couple are reassessing whether they can afford the family’s annual North Carolina beach vacation this year and still set aside money for their daughters’ college fund.
“It’s extremely surprising to me that the officers who patrol the major parkways and national icons downtown are not considered essential during this sequestration,” Nichols said. “When you go into law enforcement, it’s drilled into you that you’re an essential employee.”
Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said he’s not happy with the inequity, either.
“If we could, we would spread their budget cut across the Park Service,” he said in a statement. “We can’t do that.”
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