Require that all federal and contract employees to volunteer 1-6 day(s) a year at a local non-profit federally funded project, group, or event for half their usual pay in lieu of reporting to their job.
Many federally supported projects are being cut back financially, and could use the extra (free) hands. Some example projects or programs are: Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Club of America, federally funded after school programs, (there are thousands of options). Types of tasks could include direct participation in the program (building a house with Habitat for Humanity), or administrative (making photo copies, filing paper work, etc).
By paying the federal employees/contractors partial pay, there is less impact on individual employee’s finical burden compared to furloughs and lay offs. There would be a lower impact to job productivity compared to furloughs or lay offs because the employee would not be available to work for one day instead of weeks, employees would not “live in fear” about being let go, and there would be no need to re-train or put more strain on the remaining staff by a lay off.
I realize that this suggestion is not simple, but with a little effort we can continue to support our country rise above the debt and negative press. The only way to make things better is to get involved.