WASHINGTON – Fiscal hawks say the silver lining to the partial government shutdown, which is entering its second week of scaled-back services, could be the picture of government waste it paints for taxpayers.
A look through the shutdown contingency plans of the federal government shows some little-known commissions and agencies -- like the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness -- don't have anybody reporting for work during the partial shutdown.
The ability of the government to run without any of the people from any of these agencies on the clock is prompting some watchdog groups to question why, then, do the agencies need to exist in the first place?
“Think of all the money we could save as a nation,” Judicial Watch said in an Oct. 7 post. “Besides bringing attention to these largely unheard of agencies, the shutdown – caused by Congress’s inability to agree on a funding bill – is also shedding light on just how bloated the federal government is, with an astounding workforce that’s seen nearly 800,000 furloughed this week.”
Government bodies that have exactly zero people on the job this week include the USDA Risk Management Agency, where all 430 employees are furloughed, and the Federal Maritime Commission, where all 120 workers are furloughed.
The federal government is the country’s largest employer, and the fallout from the partial shutdown has been felt at almost every federal agency; some, though, more than others.
Department heads were told ahead of time to prep for a scale-back in services and were told to divide workers into essential and non-essential categories. The essential workers were told to report to work.
Over at the Department of Commerce, 15,641 employees at the Census Bureau were told to stay home. It was the same story for all 169 people at the U.S. Economic Development Administration, as well as for the 49 workers at the Minority Business Development Agency.
Monday marks the seventh day of the government slimdown with hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed, national parks closed and an array of government services on hold. The Obama administration did call back to work hundreds of thousands of civilian military workers.
But he didn’t call back anyone at the U.S. Access Board. According to the description on its website, the Access Board is a federal agency that “promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment and information technology.”
Agency workers did not make it on the list of federal employees needed to keep the government going.
At the United States Department of Agriculture, all jobs in the Office of Ethics, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and the Office of the Chief Economist were stripped of their employees.
But others argue that while shuttering operations in places like the Federal Maritime Commission for a couple weeks is sustainable, eventually workers will need to come back to work because inspections will need to get done. The commission is in place, partly, “to foster a fair international ocean transportation system and to protect the public from unfair and deceptive practices.”
Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, told FoxNews.com that using the partial shutdown to highlight areas that need to be cut “is not a good argument.”
Alexander says the conversation in Congress over the cutback in federal services is overly broad and fails to shed light on the waste.
“Congress has the ability to have hearings on C-SPAN and investigations about where they think waste is, but using a shutdown to do it isn’t the right way to go,” she said.