At the brink: Washington prepares for cliff

As Congressional negotiations once again break down, OMB sends agencies more information on the ramifications of coming budget cuts.

Sign warning of fiscal cliff

As Congressional negotiations once again end in failure, the Office of Management and Budget gives agencies new guidance on the impact of sequestration, due to take effect Jan. 2.

In yet another discouraging sign about the impending fiscal cliff, the Office of Management and Budget sent guidance to agencies on Dec. 20 outlining the potential impact of across-the-board budget cuts that could slash billions from federal spending.

Although leaders in Washington say they are still committed to closing the divide between Democrats and Republicans on a deficit reduction plan, sequestration is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013, and lawmakers are now ajourning for a short break over the Christmas holiday, which leaves only a matter of days to resolve their differences.

In a Dec. 20 press conference, White House spokesman Jay Carney sought to offer reassurance about OMB’s motives for releasing the text, which agencies have used as a template for updating their employees on the negotiations and the potential impact if talks fail.

“What’s happening is part of good governance, and it is the responsibility of OMB to give these notifications,” Carney said. “We remain, as I’ve been discussing, focused on reaching agreement on a balanced deficit reduction plan that prevents us from going over the fiscal cliff and avoids sequestration. And we believe even now that that agreement is within reach. OMB is taking further steps with just two weeks left to ensure that the administration is ready to issue such an order should Congress fail to act. So this is simply the responsible thing to do. It should not be read as predictive of any outcome. If we were five minutes away from achieving a deal, it would still be the responsible thing to do.”

The Pentagon released a memo from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that is similar to those other agencies reportedly furnished to their employees while addressing issues specific to the military.

“Sequestration was never intended to be implemented, and there is no reason why both sides should not be able to come together and prevent this scenario,” Panetta wrote in the DOD memo. “Nevertheless, with only a couple of weeks left before sequestration could occur should a deal not be reached, it is important to clarify the potential implications.”

If sequestration does occur, it will reduce agencies’ budgetary resources for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, 2013. Although sequestration is significant and harmful overall, it would not require immediate spending cuts; therefore, daily operations would not change dramatically on Jan. 2, Panetta said.

But if operations continue under reduced spending levels for an extended period of time, civilian personnel actions, including possible furloughs, might have to be considered, he added, vowing that affected employees would be given “the requisite advanced notice.”

According to a source who spoke on background, OMB’s document indicates that the agency is taking steps to ensure the Obama administration is ready to act should negotiations fail, and it should not be considered a change in commitment to reaching an agreement.

“OMB has instructed agencies to begin communications with their employees about what to expect if a sequestration order is issued and about potential personnel actions, such as furloughs, that might be necessary in the months ahead,” the source said. “OMB is simply ensuring that the administration is prepared.” The memos and other guidance come as House Majority Leader John Boehner’s Plan B for tax cuts failed on the evening of Dec. 20, and President Barack Obama is now forced to come up with other alternatives.

NEXT STORY: Friday: Fiscal cliff, cyber order

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.