Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Defense Department slashes furlough days again

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Secretary of Defense,Analysis,Defense Spending,Budgets and Deficits,Chuck Hagel

Defense Department officials cut the number of furlough days yet again, dropping the number of total furlough days for 800,000 civilian employee to about one quarter of the 22 days the Pentagon projected.

“With the end of the fiscal year next month, managers across the DoD are making final decisions necessary to ensure we make the $37 billion spending cuts mandated by sequestration, while also doing everything possible to limit damage to military readiness and our workforce,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement today.

“We are joined in this regard by managers in non-defense agencies who are also working to accommodate sequestration cuts while minimizing mission damage.  As part of that effort at the Department of Defense, I am announcing today that, 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.”

Hagel cut the furlough days from 22 to 14 after President Obama signed an appropriations bill spearheaded by House Republicans that gave the Defense Department increased flexibility in implementing the sequester, but that doesn’t account for all the furlough reductions.

“Prudent management done here slowed the rate of spending — although it was at the risk of readiness — but it allowed us to do this,” a Pentagon official told Stars and Stripes.

Hagel still believe that Congress needs to eliminate sequestration for next year. “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,” he said in the statement. “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.”

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