Earlier today, Secretary Hagel convened a meeting of the department’s top leadership – including the Service Secretaries and Service Chiefs – to receive an update on the impact of the ongoing government shutdown on the Department of Defense. He is pleased that most DoD civilians are returning to work this week, and thanked the service leadership for quickly implementing the guidance issued over the weekend regarding furloughs.
All of the leaders noted that despite the recall of most civilians, and the resumption of many activities across the Department of Defense, there are critical programs and benefits that remain halted. For example, the department does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action – typically a cash payment of $100,000 paid within three days of the death of a service member. In addition, emergency funding that supports commanders on the ground and intelligence activities remains unavailable. Service leaders also reported that because of the shutdown, they are curtailing training for later deploying units – an activity that has already been reduced due to sequestration.
Secretary Hagel assured the service leaders that he would work closely with them to address these challenges, and support the service members and families impacted by these disruptions. He expressed his continued concern for the morale and welfare of DoD’s civilian employees, who have endured unprecedented uncertainty this year and suffered losses in pay.
Secretary Hagel will continue to receive regular updates and review authorities to expend funds during this lapse in appropriations.