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Saving money could cost Uncle Sam $250 million. Yes, you read that right. It seems that whenever a federal bureaucrat is laid off, or "riffed" (in government jargon), he or she does not depart empty-handed. The employee is entitled to severance pay, a lump sum for unused vacation time, and the money accumulated in his civil service retirement fund. Severance pay alone amounts to one week's salary for each of the first 10 years of service and twice as much for each additional year.

Nearly 15,000 federal employees are expected to get pink slips as a result of austerity moves. Employee unions warn that the number could be much higher. Some 2, 000 "RIF" notices have been sent out so far.m

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