DOD contingency plan includes furloughs

A Defense Department plan would furlough noncritical civilian employees in DOD's War on Terror operations if Congress fails to appropriate supplemental funding.

The Defense Department has directed its military secretaries and other leaders to prepare to furlough nonessential civilian employees in the department's anti-terrorism operations if Congress fails to appropriate adequate supplemental funding. In a June 9 memo obtained by Federal Computer Week, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, noting that Congress has yet to appropriate necessary supplemental 2008 funding for the Global War on Terror, outlined a contingency plan for continuing GWOT operations in the absence of available appropriations. “While the secretary [of Defense] and I have every expectation of receiving adequate appropriations, it is prudent to begin planning for possible exhaustion of the department’s military personnel and operation and maintenance appropriations,” England wrote. England wrote that without the appropriated funds, the department would continue “to prosecute the GWOT and prepare forces for deployment into that conflict.” DOD also would continue “many other operations necessary for the safety of human life and property, including operations essential for the security of our nation” — activities he termed exempt from cessation. Other, so-called nonexempt operations “would need to be shut down in an orderly and deliberate fashion” if funding isn’t available, he said. As a result, critical military personnel would serve without pay until appropriated funds are available, and civilian employees not engaged in exempt activities would be furloughed — put in a "nonwork, nonpay status," according to the memo. “This is guidance to begin detailed planning,” England said. “No specific employee furlough notifications are yet authorized.” England gave department heads until June 30 to delineate the exempt and nonexempt operations and estimate the number of employees who could be furloughed if funding isn't appropriated. The American Federation of Government Employees said the memo was a scare tactic and “another instance of economic fear-mongering.” “It is irresponsible and reprehensible to suggest that thousands of loyal, committed civilian employees could lose their jobs as a result of political wrangling,” AFGE said in a statement. “It is especially irresponsible in light of the essential nature of the work performed by Department of Defense civilian employees during a time of war.” Much of the Bush administration’s request for supplemental fiscal 2008 funding for the war on terror, including appropriations for the war in Iraq, has been pending before Congress for more than 15 months.

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