Civilians working for the Department of Defense will still “pay the price” of Congressional across the board budget cuts known as sequestration. However, that price won’t be as steep.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that mandated furloughs for civilians will shrink from 11 to six days.
In a news release, Hagel stated that civilian employees faced up to 22 days of unpaid leave or furloughs when sequestration started March 1, 2013. He credited early action such as hiring freezes, layoffs and cuts in facilities and maintenance for some of the savings.
The Department of Defense also worked with Congress for more flexibility with its accounts instead of across the board cuts.
Hoping to be able to reduce furloughs, we submitted a large reprogramming proposal to Congress in May, asking them to let us move funds from acquisition accounts into day-to-day operating accounts. Congress approved most of this request in late July, and we are working with them to meet remaining needs. We are also experiencing less than expected costs in some areas, such as transportation of equipment out of Afghanistan. Where necessary, we have taken aggressive action to transfer funds among services and agencies. And the furloughs have saved us money.
Hagel further announced that the savings have been enough to “reprogram” and increase severely cut training programs with selected units and maintenance schedules.
He adds the reminder that the fiscal year is over in less than two months.
If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DoD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on October 1. This represents 40 percent more than this year’s sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. 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.
You can read the full media release HERE.