Furlough plans vary widely at government agencies like HUD, EPA, Social Security, Homeland Security

WASHINGTON - Government agencies vary widely in how they are dealing with $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect last week.

Union officials representing federal workers say their members could face seven days of furloughs at the Housing and Urban Development Department, for example, but Homeland Security personnel might see twice that number.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, workers would get four-day holiday weekends with a catch — one day would be a furlough day. Other agencies, like the Social Security Administration, are avoiding furloughs altogether.

A lot depends on how flexible an agency is. If it's largely personnel-driven, there's no way to avoid furloughs. Unions are pushing for agencies to cut back on federal contracts and other areas before furloughing employees.