Just how essential are you, really…

By Mike Causey
Federal News Radio

Before political correctness made just about everything better, federal workers were divided into two categories: essential and non-essential.

Being essential didn’t mean you could walk on water. And being non-essential didn’t mean you were useless. Instead, the categories were used to define who had to come to work, and who could and should stay home, during emergency situations. Like a three-inch snow storm in Washington, D.C.

Some more sensitive officials decided that labeling a small number of people as “essential” while calling the majority of government workers “non-essential” sent the wrong message. Now feds are designated as “emergency” and “non-emergency” which is used during various emergency situations, including serious weather events like Hurricane Sandy.


Now that furloughs have — or will hit — many federal agencies, some emergency workers wonder why they can be considered indispensable during an emergency, but just part of the crowd for furlough purposes. Check out some comments we’ve received on the furlough situation:

  • “The question I have asked, and have yet to receive an answer upon is this: If the furloughs impact critical and essential employees (meaning we come in when the rest of the government, in our area, stays home) and we are laid off (even for a day), are we still critical and essential? The crux of this matter is the requirement to undertake risk either by coming in to work (during hazardous conditions) or by remaining at work (when others are directed to evacuate). If we are not ‘critical employees’ for purposes of the sequester, and are thus subject to furlough, then it would appear that we cannot, subsequently, be deemed ‘critical’ employees requiring we undertake these risks when it suits the government to have us do so.” — Just Me

A reader comments on the DoD furlough status:

  • “As you know, many unions and other interests groups have banded together with a group of congressional representatives and asked that DoD adjust the number of furlough days within each DoD component based on their current financial position. That would seem to be a no-brainer … right? As a long-time DoD numbers cruncher, I’ll give you my own personal comment on this. They simply can’t justify any set of decisions that complicated. The dysfunctional accounting system is that unreliable. Different levels of cuts would lead to too many questions. It is sad but true. I have not heard this take on the situation but thought I’d pass my thoughts on for what they’re worth. I enjoy reading your column. Keep up the good work.” — Anonymous DoD Beancounter

Blame Game:

Finally, a word about furloughs, sequestration and the blame game:

  • “So the across-the-board furloughs aren’t being imposed across-the-board after all! Amazing how some agencies managed to avoid them while high-profile places like the White House’s OMB, FAA, Defense and the IRS have had or will have furloughs.

    “The truly sad thing is that managing sequestration probably costs more in time, money and morale than it will ever save. I blame both sides. The White House for coming up with it and congressional Republicans (and many Democrats) for letting it happen. Apparently in the ‘blame game’ the only thing that really matters is winning or not being on the losing side. The issues themselves run a distant second.” — Don with Army

Have questions or comments on this story? Email Mike Causey. Federal News Radio would like to remind our readers, you can still access Federal News Radio articles via the Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari web browsers.


Compiled by Jack Moore

The name “Major” jumped the most spots in an annual list of popular baby names maintained by the Social Security Administration. Other names making gains in 2012 included “King” and “Messiah.”

(Source: WTOP)


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