I don’t think allowing some agency discretion would “slow” things down at all, especially considering that in one case they already built such flexibility in; and simply neglected to give it to everyone. All you’d have to do to greatly minimize impact to agency missions without “slowing things down” is to grant the same flexibility given to DoD (to increase cuts in some accounts / decrease cuts in other accounts in order to protect military personnel accounts) for military personnel accounts to DoD and all other agencies for civilian personnel accounts as well (and possibly for critical non-personnel accounts). I consider it the greatest travesty of the Budget Control Act that no flexibility was granted for civilian personnel accounts as was granted for military personnel accounts; and it’s going to leave a LOT of agencies–DoD included for that matter; as they do employ civilians–in a huge world of hurt that could have been avoided if such had been included in the law.
As for the impacts of such a tweak; there would be few to none: Agencies would still be required to hit their bottom-line numbers (just like DoD is still required to hit their bottom line #’s; if they choose to exercise their flexibility to protect military personnel accounts, they have increase the cuts to other accounts to make up the difference and reach the same $$$), nothing would really change–9 percent would still be 9 percent. But rather than having to hit a critical, personnel-intensive account by 9 percent and cause massive RIFs (to the detriment of both agency missions AND the unemployment #’s); you could, say, choose to take a 20 percent reduction in a capital account or a less-than-super-critical project account; and only a smaller, doable say 3 percent reduction in staff-intensive, mission-critical accounts. Or even if an agency were all staff intensive accounts; they could still choose to take larger reductions in less critical accounts to ensure only small reductions in the most critical ones.