Unless Congress and the White House approve a budget by Oct. 1, nearly 2 million federal workers are going to be furloughed. In today's Monday Morning Quarterback, an about-to-be-furloughed worker asks just what vital services the economizers want continued. Another says that moving workers to a four-day, 36-hour week could save enough money to make most furloughs unnecessary.
"I work at the Securities and Exchange Commission . . . reviewing prospectuses of mutual funds . . . . If furloughed we will be working a three-day week. It is already a struggle to adequately review fund statements . . . during a five-day week. Many of my colleagues put in extra hours to get work out.
"During furloughs, employees are under orders not to work more than the assigned three days. I would like to ask our congressional representatives what type of message they think they're sending to the financial community and investors by furloughing us?
"Do they expect the same number of reviews during a three-day week as are done under a five-day week? Perhaps they do not care if it takes us twice as long to complete the same amount of work . . . . I am not sure that the investment management companies and law firms that represent them would share this view.
"Maybe we should reduce our review procedure and read, say, every other page, or perhaps every other document? Or maybe our representatives would like companies to reduce the number of filings so investors have fewer funds from which to choose.
"I'm not certain that investors will feel comfortable knowing the SEC is reviewing the prospectuses of companies in which they intend to invest A) twice as fast; B) selectively; or C) not at all. I might add that the SEC brings in more money to the Treasury than it expends, and right now morale is not high here." Jackie Rivas Arlington
"I have a suggestion to save energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, save the government money, make furloughs less necessary, provide more recreation time, save wear and tear on roads, decrease congestion, etc.
"I suggest that, where feasible, government employees be scheduled for a nine-hour day, four-day work week starting in January. This would represent a 10 percent cut in hours worked and gross salary. The savings to the government would be significant. With a pay raise of about 4 percent in January, workers would be sustaining a real loss in gross pay of about 6.4 percent.
"Considering most workers take home 70 percent or less of their gross pay, their take-home pay would drop only 4.5 percent. I believe most workers would welcome this . . . considering the many benefits and the fact that we are faced with possible furloughs that could be greatly reduced or eliminated by this suggestion.
"I'm sure there are some obstacles like union contracts, but these could mostly be overcome. I would be interested in feedback from . . . government workers and the Congress." Jim Beller Washington