From where we sit, we hear two things from federal employees relevant to the sequester and budget battles, both near daily:

(1) large amounts of money continue to be wasted, whether on turf-building, programs that duplicate others or don’t work, and often on bonuses that aren’t particularly earned; and

(2) the upcoming furloughs–for example, one day per pay period–are making it difficult for employees to focus on their jobs, as they instead worry about things like making mortgage and car payments.

There is some talk of at least one law enforcement agency also cutting the supplemental pay that is associated with the requirement agents regularly be available for overtime (though other agencies have said that pay won’t be touched). One way or another, some may lose in excess of 10% of pay during the sequester.

A person who may be evicted is going to be greatly distracted by that, even if her job does involve protecting the country from crime and terrorism. There are plenty of places to cut, but across-the-board furloughs is no way to get there. How about instead clearly designating specific staff in each agency’s Inspector General’s office to receive complaints of and investigate wasteful spending? Create incentives to reward identification and cutting of waste. The current system rewards those who spend every last penny of their allocated budgets: not a recipe for efficiency.

Wasteful spending is a cancer on the public trust and our financial future, but an axe is not an appropriate tool for even the emergency operating room. We can and must do better.

Here’s a related Washington Post article on cuts for Feds.