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Obama: Federal jobs may stay vacant, doesn't rule out furloughs

By Ed O'Keefe

In a conversation Friday with newspaper columnists, including colleague Joe Davidson, President Obama did not rule out furloughing federal workers but warned that such action could result in loss of services:

Speaking to members of the Trotter Group, an organization of black columnists, Obama deflected complaints, by Republicans on Capitol Hill and conservative think tanks, that federal employees are overpaid.
He said his team has examined pay levels, "and the data we get back indicates that high-skilled workers in government are slightly underpaid. Lower-skilled workers are slightly overpaid relative to the private sector.
"That's not surprising," he added, "because it's a unionized workforce."
Nonetheless, Obama said that just as people and companies across the country have had to be cautious about spending, "government should have to tighten its belt as well. We need to do it in an intelligent way. We need to make sure we do things smarter, rather than just lopping something off arbitrarily without having thought it through."
Obama has asked agencies to develop plans for cutting budgets 5 percent. But how that would be done would be decided on a case-by-case basis, he said.
"In some cases, they may say we don't need to fill vacancies," he said.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 15, 2010; 3:09 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Workplace Issues  
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