While the federal government prepares to furlough workers in critical agencies starting next month, it’s spending millions of dollars on employees who are “absent without leave” or simply showing up to work on “standby.”

In other words, complains one senator, workers “being paid to do nothing.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is now urging the government to crack down on this alleged waste, saying targeting these workers could yield billions of dollars in savings — and even avert some furloughs.

“It makes little sense to furlough air traffic controllers and border patrol agents while retaining employees who are AWOL, on standby, not performing official duties, or sitting idle awaiting security clearances,” Coburn wrote in a letter Wednesday to John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management.