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Some just wouldn't stop working

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It took him less than two minutes Thursday to respond to a call placed to his pager.

The people who study work were not surprised.

Edward Lawler, a University of Southern California business professor, said scientific studies have long found individuals who "are motivated by the task rather than the reward. . . .

"They are very much turned on by the work they do. I'm not surprised that some would do it but I would expect it would be a very small percentage . . . maybe 5 to 10 percent."

Lawler said such workers were probably involved in interesting, high-profile projects. "If you are a parking lot attendant, you are not coming in to park extra cars."

Bonnie Michaels, president of Managing Work & Family Inc., a Chicago consulting firm, said it is hard to explain why federal workers would take risks when told not to work. Many workers battle bouts of insecurity and a "fear of the future," she said. For them, work is an anchor in their lives.

Lawler said work acts almost as a narcotic for some people. "They are inseparable from the work they do. It defines who they are. Without it, some people literally can come apart."

The Anti-Deficiency Act also made life difficult for workers authorized to carry on government business during the shutdown. The law allows civil servants and the military to continue national defense, protect public safety and health, support the national economy and perform emergency tasks.

But it apparently limited otherwise routine activities. Lawyers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said last week that NASA Deputy Administrator John R. Dailey could not appear for a panel discussion before the National Academy of Public Administration. An aide to Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick refused a reporter's request for an interview, saying Gorelick was restricted to performing only "essential business."

Clinton administration officials, meanwhile, have repeatedly chided reporters for using the terms "essential" and "nonessential" when writing about employees affected by the shutdown. The official designations are "excepted," "emergency" and "non-excepted" employees, officials said.

"If the legal test was 'essential employees,' there would have been no furloughs," said John A. Koskinen, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said he found "a disturbing trend towards downplaying the importance" of the furloughed workers. "It is disgraceful that some have chosen to suggest that 'nonessential' employees really are not needed or do not contribute," he said.

"Anybody who understands how to lead and deal with people would never declare 800,000 people nonessential," Ross Perot said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "That creates a scar that will take a long time to heal."

Senior Executives Association president Carol A. Bonosaro said furloughed workers "have been subjected to unwarranted ridicule in the media and by the public" because of the widespread use of "nonessential."

She recently met with Vice President Gore, she said, and "was gratified to learn that the vice president not only understands the denigrating nature of this label but is personally offended by its use." Gore "has personally urged" top administration officials to assure returning federal workers of their importance to their agencies, Bonosaro said.

Staff writers William Branigin, David Brown, Elizabeth Corcoran and Thomas W. Lippman and staff researcher Barbara J. Saffir contributed to this report.


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