Comptroller: Civilian Furloughs Still Under Review
By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 Defense Department officials are still evaluating whether to furlough more than 700,000 of the department’s civilian employees, a move that officials have said would be necessary because of the budget sequester, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer said today.
“[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 F. Hale told a Pentagon Auditorium audience. “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.”
Defense officials had said civilian employees would begin receiving furlough notices as early as next month, and that they should expect to be told not to come to work for as many as two days per pay period beginning in June and through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Department employees were initially told to expect to be furloughed for up to 22 days, but that was reduced to 14 days after Congress approved a defense appropriation bill that granted some fiscal relief.
“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.”
Yesterday, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter called furloughs “outrageous” and said the department was looking at ways to reduce the number of days employees would be off the job without pay.
The budget sequester, which took effect in March, requires the Defense Department to trim $41 billion in spending this fiscal year.