Uncertainty persists with DOD furloughs


Defense Department officials are looking for ways to further reduce the number of furlough days for roughly 700,000 civilian employees, with a review under way to further evaluate budget constraints, according to Pentagon leadership.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "has asked that we take another close look at furloughs, and we are in the process of doing that," DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said April 18 at the Pentagon. "The furloughs, if they occur, are going to damage morale if that hasn’t already happened, and seriously damage productivity in virtually every area of the department."

The number of furlough days already was reduced from an initial plan of 22 days down to 14, and officials are seeking ways around the cuts being forced by sequestration.

Earlier in the week, Hagel, testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, indicated that some civilian employees could be exempted from furlough based on job priority, based on areas such as "safety, security, expertise and so on."

"That said, what we have tried to do in approaching this is be fair and try to come at this in a way that’s across the board, with the exceptions that [I've] noted and others," Hagel said, according to a Washington Times report. "If we have to do this ... then that’s the approach that we will continue to take."

On April 17 Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter criticized the furloughs and said officials are "scrubbing the money pot" to prioritize spending with the additional $10 billion granted by Congress last month in a continuing resolution.

"Of course, it's not just to alleviate the furlough. We have other things that are important -- all these things are important," he said. "We have to make sure our nuclear deterrent forces are at full readiness. We have to support [troops in Afghanistan]. We have to take care of wounded warriors."

Hale stressed that nothing is certain and that furloughs remain on the table.

"The possibility of furloughs for our civilian personnel for up to 14 days [is] an issue we're still looking at," Hale said. "If we end up doing them, we will take an overall approach which does it in a way that minimizes the adverse effects on mission to the extent we can."

On Capitol Hill, Hagel indicated a decision is expected next month.

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Reader comments

Fri, May 3, 2013

I consider myself a highly skilled and dedicated technical specialist for one of our DoD Services, and oversee some of the most important modernization projects in the Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance arena. Prior to the FY13 budget, our projects and programs were highly rated, closely watched and supported by senior DoD leadership, and urgently needed for our current overseas efforts in Central Command and other places in the world. FY13 has been an unmitigated disaster. My agency has still not been told what its FY13 budget is, and we have ~6 weeks of funds to pay our employees on hand right now because the DoD is issuing monthly funding increments to its component agencies in response to sequester. My employees have been busting their rears working many more than 40 hr weeks to try to meet our warfighter customer demands, and now you throw this shameless furlough in the lap of our finest scientist and engineers. I would estimate in my agency of 500+, the average worker puts in 48 hrs for 40 hrs pay, some 50-60 hrs. During furlough, they will work 32 hrs for 32 hrs pay. After the furlough, they will work 40 hrs for 40 hrs pay, if they don't quit outright and take a higher paying job with the contractor or commercial sector. I know many will be using their day off to polish resumes. This political stupidity and standoff is doing irreparable harm to my agency's mission and people. FY13 is a lost year. My hopes for FY14 aren't much brighter. DOD leaders--decide already -- that's what you're paid to do. And PLEASE stop letting us find out national policy in the newspaper -- have the guts and courtesy to tell your DoD employees first before you tell congress and the press.

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 Charles

I am looking forward to the time off. Get out of the stress of trying to do more with less. The leadership is looking clueless by not being decisive. Is the financing of the Department so bad that they can't hit a target for the number of days?

Sat, Apr 27, 2013

The morale of DOD employees is at an all time low. As an employee of DOD, to be expected to pay military and civilian vouchers within an acceptable timeframe with less employees and now with a cut to hours is a disservice to out customers. Then when taking into consideration many of DOD employees make under $35,000.00 per year; keeping bills paid and feeding their families is already difficult at best. By taking an additional 20% will send them over the edge.

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 Alva Maynor

To the person who can do math and show that the 14 furlough days are only 5.4%. OK, So why don't you go for 14 weeks with 20% of your pay being cut during that time while your insurance and other things like that don't change, and then tell me you are only taking a 5.4% pay cut. The way things are going, we are getting one day a week without pay and for a two week pay period, that is two days. If the 14 days get squeezed into less than 14 weeks, which could happen, we will be getting even more than one day off a week without pay.

Wed, Apr 24, 2013

Why keep us dangling at the end of a string about furloughs!?! Make up your minds and then tell us what's going to happen! I'm tired of all this. I'm ready to retire with $24,000 annuity per year. Sure, government employee's are paid too much!

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