Back Pay For 'Non-Essential' Employees During Shutdown Cost $2.5B

December 17, 2013 - 5:49 PM

Coburn on Gov’t Waste: Back Pay For Non-Essential Employees During Shutdown Cost $2.5 Billion

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released his annual Waste Book highlighting the wasteful spending of the federal government at a press conference at the Capitol on Dec. 17, 2013. ( Starr)

( -- In his annual Waste Book, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) includes the White House estimate of the cost of back pay to non-essential employees who were furloughed when the federal government was partially and temporarily shut down for 16 days in October.

“The White House estimates it cost $2 billion to provide back pay to federal employees ‘for services that could not be performed’ during the shutdown, is roughly $2.0 billion,” the Waste Book 2013 says. “Total compensation costs, including benefits, are about 30 percent larger, in the range of $2.5 billion.”

"Of course, it is not the fault of employees who are non-essential, formally deemed 'non-exempt' from being furloughed, for the failure of Congress to do its job, which is essential to the functioning of our government," reads the Waste Book.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, “The largest direct cost of the Federal government shutdown – both to the Federal budget and to the economy – was work not performed by Federal employees during the 16-day period. … Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million work days, with furloughs affecting workers at the vast majority of agencies.”

Other wasteful spending highlighted in Waste Book 2013, which was revealed on Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol include the following:

• The IRS’s $17.5 million for tax-free prostitution business expenses.

• $50 million for the Department of Commerce’s “Let Me Google That For You” information service.

• Department of Defense spends $7 billion for mass destruction of weapons.

Coburn on Gov’t Waste: Back Pay For Non-Essential Employees During Shutdown Cost $2.5 Billion

Waste Book 2013, released by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

• Department of Health and Human Services’ spent $379 million for promoting the Obamacare website.

• $914,000 for the National Endowment for the Arts to study romance novels.

Coburn, who held the press conference following his vote against ending debate on the proposed budget deal, said Congress failed to do its job.

“My contention is, had Congress been focused on doing its job of setting priorities and oversighting and cutting wasteful spending, we could have avoided both a government shutdown and the budget deal that we’re now considering, which actually grows the government and raises the burden on the American taxpayer,” Coburn said.