OK, I take it back. A few weeks ago, I said “let sequestration happen”. My logic…there’s no way D.C. politicians are EVER going to agree to cut the military by nearly 10%, and I’m willing to survive the pain of the other cuts, if we start to cut our ridiculous military spending. My own agency, as all others funded by “discretionary” spending, would also take a big cut. If it were all done wisely (don’t laugh), I do think there’s “fat” that can be trimmed from a lot of places in government. Hence, my previous post that sequestration may not be such a bad thing.
I was wrong.
For one, I foolishly thought that sequestration could be done “wisely”. Now that we are 3 days from sequestration becoming a reality, it’s becoming quite obvious how poorly prepared Federal agencies are to address the cuts. Warnings of up to 22 days of furloughs are going out to Federal employees. First…what does this solve? If budgets are indeed cut by 8% or so, what does a furlough solve? You’re cutting costs temporarily, but what happens at the start of the new fiscal year? You still have a lowered budget, and are facing the same problem. Are you going to furlough Federal employees one day a week for all of NEXT year as well? If cuts are enacted, stop-gap measures such as cutting travel, cutting ALL scientific conference attendance (Ugh…gotta love cutting scientists off from contact with their colleagues or the public), and an ill-thought out furlough solve NOTHING for the long-term.
DC politicians are continually kicking the can down the road instead of dealing with budget deficits. It seems Federal agencies are following the same line of thinking, trying to patch together a last-minute set of short-term fixes to deal with what could end up being a permanent budget cut.
Trying to manage a science project right now in the Federal government? Next to impossible, given the complete uncertainty as to budgets or staffing. Government CAN be very efficient and can provide wonderful services to the American people…if only the damn politicians would get out-of-the-way.