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Government agencies have no one-size-fits-all response to sequestration. For some, personnel expenses are such a large proportion of their budgets that furloughs are the only way to make the required cuts. Others can find ways to make the cuts without furloughs—though not necessarily without job impacts. So, for instance:
Federal workers could face seven days of furloughs at the Housing and Urban Development Department, but Homeland Security personnel might see twice that number. At the Environmental Protection Agency, workers would get four-day holiday weekends with a catch—one day would be a furlough day. [...]
The Social Security Administration, for example, says it hopes to avoid furloughs altogether, instead saving money by terminating more than 1,500 temporary and other workers and losing more than 5,000 other positions through attrition.
Unions that represent federal workers are working to negotiate furlough scheduling and to urge agencies to find non-furlough cuts to make. But the amount of flexibility varies widely from agency to agency—and some, meanwhile, are waiting to see if the Senate's continuing resolution will extend to other agencies the flexibility the House continuing resolution offers the Defense Department. But as long as big cuts are required, there will be pain, even if Republicans try to hide that.