DOD reduces furlough days

Hagel says budget flexibility enables Pentagon to drop from 11 days to six for most civilian employees.

"This represents 40 percent more than this year's sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion," Hagel pointed out in his statement. "Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs."
Chuck Hagel

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reduced the number of furlough days for DOD employees. (File photo)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has cut the number of days that civilian DOD employees face furlough from 11 to six. The last furlough day is expected to be less than two weeks away, on Aug. 17.

The reduced furloughs were made possible by increased flexibility provided by congressional permission to reallocate funding, and by growing budget certainty as the end of the fiscal year approaches,  Hagel said in an Aug. 6 announcement. The furloughs began July 8.

"When I announced my decision on May 14 to impose furloughs of up to 11 days on civilian employees to help close the budget gap caused by sequestration, I also said we would do everything possible to find the money to reduce furlough days for our people," Hagel said, according to a DOD release. "Thanks to the DOD's efforts to identify savings and help from Congress, we will reduce the total numbers of furlough days for DOD civilian employees from 11 to six."

The reduction comes as Pentagon departments have taken several steps to pare down costs, Hagel noted, including hiring freezes, layoffs of temporary workers and significant cuts in facilities maintenance.

The secretary also cited lower-than-expected costs in areas such as transportation in Afghanistan, aggressive action to move money and activities between agencies and departments, and the furloughs themselves as ways DOD achieved enough savings to decrease the number of mandatory days of unpaid leave. The services also have been able to resume some improvements in training and readiness, he said.

However, Hagel warned that fiscal 201 holds further peril, with DOD facing another $52 billion in cuts under the Budget Control Act.

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