The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 2, 2013

The numbers that show how essential an agency is

(Continued)

Ever the decimal counters, the Internal Revenue Service has only 9.3 percent working during the shutdown.

On the low side of the essential ranking, you can find the departments of Education (10 percent), Treasury (18 percent), Interior (20 percent), and Labor (22 percent).

Even working in James Bond type agencies doesn't give you more juice than the people who deal with planes, trains and automobiles — or even tomatoes.

About 30 percent of civilian workers in the nation's intelligence agencies are still working, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told Congress Wednesday. That's about the same as the Department of Agriculture, but nothing compared with the 67 percent of Department of Transportation workers are still on the job.

The Department of Homeland Security with 86 percent and Justice Department with 84 percent are in the homecoming court of the essential worker list.

Then there's the VA, where 95 percent of employees are still on the job, and the Department of State. Unlike other agency, State Department officials don't have an official percentage for how many of their workers are essential, but said Wednesday essentially none of the 77,000 employees has been furloughed.

"You cannot close a VA hospital. You can't do it politically. You can't do it for the good of the patient," Light said.

The whole essential ranking "is a little bit of 'Mean Girls' mixed in with 'The Right Stuff,'" Light said. "Only 'The Right Stuff' doesn't happen to be the space program."

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