Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis was asked about that the other day and said that, though he doesn't favor furloughs, he also doesn't think all that much will be lost. For many Transportation Department employes, he said, "There's no sense of urgency, no compulsion to get something done. And, the motive seems to be to keep on the payroll, circulate as much paper as you can and not a great drive toward productivity. I don't want to make this an out-and-out condemnation of people that I've seen in Washington . . . There really are some very concerned people. There are also a lot of drones that frankly don't care . . . If I had the time, I'd go to every department around here, including my own office and get rid of 10 percent of the people, without any loss whatsoever in terms of our ability to serve the public . . . "
A perfect world, Lewis agreed, would be one in which he could choose specifically who would be kept and who would be fired, but the rules don't permit that. Not to worry. "One way to do that is to eliminate programs, get rid of whole blocs of people, or overcut, and then come back and rebuild," Lewis said. "And again, to comply with all the laws, you got to be very careful how you do it."