Don't work or we'll fire you!

Friday - 5/17/2013, 2:00am EDT

April 25 was take-your-child to work day.

Thanks to the White House and Congress May 24, next Friday, is don't-come-to-work-or-we'll-fire-you day. At least in two federal agencies.

Thanks to sequestration cuts, the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Housing and Urban Development will be closed next Friday. For both the 89,000 IRS employees and 8,500 HUD employees, it will be day one of five scheduled furlough days.

And employees who normally work from home have been told not to do so on the 24th.

It is unclear who, if anyone, will be working to make sure nobody is working. Nor is it spelled out what the penalty will be for people caught working.

The good news is that HUD and the IRS had the good sense to schedule their first mandatory furlough day on the Memorial Day weekend. That means employees, if they have the means, can take a mini-vacation, or at least do a warm-weather cookout. If, that is, they can afford it and feel like celebrating even as they are taking a 20 percent pay cut for that week.

If you are new to the furlough game, reach out to a friend or neighbor who works for the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of it's 17,570 workers got their first furlough day in April.

Different agencies are handling the furloughs in different ways. Some have cut contract spending. Others have found ways to reshuffle money. The FAA made its point by furloughing its most visible workers, air traffic controllers. That caused costly and frustrating delays all over the country, and Congress quickly ordered FAA to stop it!

The Office of Personnel Management won't have them. The Office of Management and Budget has told most of its employees — nearly 500 people — there will be furloughs. The White House has canceled public tours of the executive mansion and will have to do without employees detailed to it if their home agency or department has a furlough. The same thing happened during the Clinton administration during the government shutdown of 1995- 96. Career employees detailed to the White House couldn't work, leaving only political appointees, and interns, on duty. That worked out pretty well, up to a point ...

Defense, which originally had the most draconian furlough plan (22 days), has trimmed that back to 11. Officials are still looking for ways to reduce that number.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

A dash of salt, according to kitchen-supply makers, is equal to exactly one-eighth of a teaspoon. A pinch, on the other hand, is half of a dash (or one-sixteenth of a teaspoon). And a smidgen is half of a pinch (one-thirty-seconds of a teaspoon).

(Click here for a very entertaining video from "Mental Floss" explaining more unusual units of measurement.)


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