The recently-passed continuing resolution is giving defense officials reason to reconsider earlier decisions.
UPDATE: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has publicly confirmed that the Defense Department will reduce the number of furlough days that civilian personnel will be required to take, from 22 to 14.
The Defense Department could reduce the number of furlough days for civilian personnel, as ongoing analysis of the continuing resolution shows that it provides more spending flexibility.
As of now, the CR does not completely eliminate the need for furloughs, but a reduction in the projected number of furlough days appears to be a possibility, defense officials said March 27. However, a spokesman said the Department is not yet committed to any course of action.
"The full range of options is on the table," said George Little, Pentagon spokesman. "Our current stand is that we are going to have to take a look still at the prospect of furloughs. I'm not prepared to say we are going to zero. I'm not going to say we are going to depart from our current plan, either."
In contrast to Little's non-committal response, the AP reports that the number of furlough days will decrease from the planned 22 days to 14, and that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision March 27.
DOD officials on March 21 announced they would delay issuing furlough notices as the CR neared passage. While the Pentagon still faces $46 billion in cuts to be made this fiscal year under sequestration, the CR allocates an additional $10 billion to DOD coffers and offers officials some flexibility in where cuts are made.
The furloughs, as initially planned, would force civilian DOD workers to take one unpaid day of absence per week for 22 weeks, resulting in a 20 percent pay cut for that period of time.
Furlough notices were slated to go out around March 22, with the work stoppages to begin in late April. Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, Pentagon spokeswoman, last week told FCW that furlough notices now are expected to be issued around April 5. A reduction in the number of furlough days could push back that issue date – and resultant furlough start date – even further.
Little emphasized that nothing is certain yet, as Pentagon officials continue to examine the CR's impact on DOD spending. However, he assured reporters at the Pentagon that once he received official word from Hagel, he would make an announcement.
"We're looking at a number of options inside the additional money we received as a result of the continuing resolution," Little said. "I can't say at this point that we are going to forego furloughs altogether, and I can't say at this stage that we're going to amend our expected policy to furlough civilian employees."
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