Only one employee in the entire federal government lost a job due to sequestration, according to a government audit that found the only permanent cut came at the U.S. Parole Commission, which eliminated one position.
Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said Wednesday that the audit — performed by the Government Accountability Office and released last month — shows that the worries over sequestration's impact on jobs was overblown.
"Despite relentless warnings about the dire consequences of sequestration's budget cuts, it appears sequestration resulted in only one layoff," he said. "While that's good news for federal employees and other workers, it is devastating to the credibility of Washington politicians and administration officials who spent months — and millions of dollars — engaging in a coordinated multi-agency cabinet-level public relations campaign to scare the American people."
A year ago at this time, sequestration was a major part of the political conversation in Washington. The cuts, which kicked in March 1, 2013, reduced spending at nearly every federal department and agency and President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill warned of devastating impacts on government services, and a major dent to the economy.
Congress blunted some of the impacts, passing legislation to keep air traffic controllers and meat plant inspectors on the job, but most agencies ended up coping with the cuts, which ran as high as 7 percent.
The White House famously closed itself to public tours, while other agencies took deeper actions.
Seven departments or agencies did furlough employees, but even that was less than a third of government agencies and departments surveyed by the GAO. Instead, those 15 departments and agencies that didn't furlough employees ended up using leftover savings or cutting other programs.
"NASA slowed down development of the program that will allow the U.S. to stop relying on Russia for trips to the International Space Station. At the same time, NASA — like most agencies — did not furlough any employees," Mr. Coburn wrote in a letter to the White House budget office.
He asked Director Sylvia Burwell to explain why some programs were cut, but federal employees were spared.
The budget office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
According to the GAO, nearly every agency or department affected by sequestration canceled or limited bonuses, cut travel and training, and limited overtime.
Nearly half of agencies and departments offered employees early retirement or bonus payments to get them to leave early. But most managed to avoid furloughing or cutting jobs altogether.
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