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“There’s way more at the DOD than they can ever possibly inspect. They’re good, like anybody they can always be improved, but their budget is already limited,” said Ben Freeman, national security investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, which made a name in the 1980s by exposing the now-infamous $640 toilet seats at the Pentagon. “They’re going to be able to look at even less of the DOD, and that’s unfortunate. Our organization has found there’s plenty of waste there.”

Others facing big cuts include the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which keeps watch on the Internal Revenue Service.

“The impact could potentially be significant on our operations,” TIGTA spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar said.

A spokeswoman for Homeland Security’s auditor said a preliminary report is done, but she couldn’t comment on it while awaiting more guidance from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

Several other offices referred questions to OMB, which didn’t return a request for comment Wednesday.

Last week, OMB released an analysis, required by Congress, of where it might have to make cuts. That list made estimates based on 2012 spending levels, and will have to be updated for 2013, but the early numbers showed $148 million in cuts to inspectors general, while regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Board and more than a dozen other agencies that regulate businesses, monitor discrimination complaints and protect investors stand to lose just shy of $500 million.

The stimulus oversight board would lose $2 million, and the GAO also stands to lose $42 million.

Chuck Young, GAO’s managing director for public affairs, said they are running “multiple scenarios” to try to figure out how to absorb the cuts without having to slash their staff.

“For GAO, the reductions would be sizable and impact our ability to execute our mission,” Mr. Young said, though he sounded a hopeful note that Congress and Mr. Obama might still find a way to head off the cuts.

All sides on Capitol Hill say they want to cancel the sequesters, but they can’t agree on how to do it. Republicans said they want more targeted spending cuts, while Democrats insist tax increases must be part of any replacement package.

The first round of cuts, totaling $109 billion, goes into effect in January.

Mr. Coburn said that’s one reason last year’s debt deal — which called for the automatic cuts — was a bad idea in the first place.

“Sequestration — across-the-board cuts — absolves both Congress and the administration of the responsibility of making hard choices,” he said. “The best way to cut spending is to go agency by agency and program by program and eliminate what isn’t working.”