DOD civilian furloughs reduced to 6 days

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Aug. 6 that furlough days for Defense Department civilian employees will be reduced from 11 to six.

Hagel said the DOD started implementing policies in January to close a budget shortfall of more than $30 billion, including canceling Army training events, reducing Air Force squadron flights and decreasing Navy ship maintenance, which have “seriously reduced military readiness.”

By early May, the budget gap decreased to $11 billion. After Congress approved a large fund-restructuring program, DOD was able to transfer funding to day-to-day operations. Hagel called sequestration one of the most “volatile budget cycles the Department of Defense” has experienced and said fiscal planning was conducted under “a cloud of uncertainty.”

While the reduction of civilian furlough days is a relief to many DOD employees, Hagel says more challenges are ahead.

“As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges. If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DOD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in fiscal 2014, starting on Oct. 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.”

The announcement comes as 650,000 workers begin their fifth week of furloughs.  In an Aug. 6 memo send to senior DOD officials, Hagel outlined a handful of exceptions, and clarified how furloughs would be handled for newly hired department employees.

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