Department of Transportation yesterday gave out RIF (layoff) notices to 237 of its 1,100 staffers at the Office of the Secretary here. DOT brass estimate that 113 people will be fired. The rest will be transferred to other jobs, downgraded, or both, beginning in the next 30 days.

DOT (we tipped you on Jan. 12 the cuts were coming) is under orders from Congress to trim spending and jobs this fiscal year. That could mean furloughs later on--a decision will be made in June or July--for many staffers.

The bad news at DOT is just part of the series of pink slips and furlough notices that are beginning to flood federal offices.

Some of the layoffs come from bona fide White House and congressional budget cuts. Others, however, could have been avoided if Congress had done its job and cleared budgets on time the way it is supposed to.

Because of the budget mess, Census Bureau plans to furlough its 5,900 staffers for 10 days beginning next month or early March. Bureau of the Mint is talking about unpaid furloughs of up to five days for its staff. General Services Administration has handed out 810 RIF notices to its 11,500 workers here. Office of Personnel Management is gearing up for both furloughs and layoffs. Mine Safety and Health Administration already has furloughed 200 inspectors. Environmental Protection Agency is planning a big RIF announcement. Federal Labor Relations Authority has fired several members of its small staff, etc., etc.

If Congress and the White House want to fire taxpayers who work for the government that is their business. But to allow workers to be fired or furloughed simply because Congress (just back from a one-month recess) hasn't met its budgetary responsibilities, is inexcusable.