DoD

February 28, 2013

If sequestration triggers, furloughs begin in late April

Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (AFNS)  — If sequestration is triggered next week, unpaid furloughs for civilian Defense Department employees will start in late April, Pentagon officials said here today.

Sequestration is a provision in budget law that will trigger major across-the-board spending cuts March 1 unless Congress agrees on an alternative.

DOD Comptroller Robert F. Hale told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that if sequestration happens, the department will cut virtually every program and investment, and that almost all civilian employees will feel the pain.

Jessica L. Wright, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said that sequestration and the continuing resolution — a temporary funding measure for the federal government that’s set to expire March 27 — also will have a devastating on military personnel.

“But on our civilians, it will be catastrophic,” she added.

“Everything is going to be affected, should sequestration go in effect,” Wright said. “That’s a guarantee. I think that everybody will be impacted by this action. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to try to ease that where we can.”

The department already has taken actions to alleviate some of the pressures. DOD has slowed spending, instituted a hiring freeze, ordered layoffs for temporary and term employees and cut back base operations and maintenance.

If sequestration hits, this pain will seem minor by comparison. Operations and maintenance funding is the only way to provide the $47 billion in required cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Within a year, two-thirds of the Army combat brigade teams will be at unacceptable levels of readiness, Hale said. Most Air Force units not deployed will be at an unsatisfactory readiness level by the end of the year. Navy and Marine Corps readiness also suffer, Hale said.

The process of furloughing civilians began today, with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta sending notification to Congress. “That starts a 45-day clock ticking, and until that clock has run out, we cannot proceed with furloughs,” Hale explained.

If sequester happens, each employee will be notified. “That starts a 30-day clock — waiting period — before we can take any action,” the comptroller said. “The bottom line is furloughs would not actually start for DOD employees until late April, and we certainly hope that … in the interim, Congress will act to de-trigger sequestration.”

The vast majority of DOD’s almost 800,000 civilian employees will be furloughed, Wright said. DOD civilians in a war zone and political appointees who are confirmed by the Senate will not be furloughed. Nonappropriated fund employees and local national employees will not be affected.

Limited exceptions will be made for the purposes of safety of life and health, Wright said, such as firefighters and police. And if a military hospital has only one neonatal nurse, for example, that person could be exempted, she added.

While military personnel accounts are exempt from sequestration, there will be second- and third-order effects, Wright said. For example, hours at exchanges and commissaries could be affected, and family programs could be reduced or cut. It is unclear at this point how DOD Education Activity schools will be affected.

The spending cuts will affect military health care, as some 40 percent of the personnel working in the system are civilians. Elective surgeries could be delayed or eliminated, and costs cannot be shifted to the TRICARE military health plan, because that program also will be hit by cuts.

Affected employees would be furloughed for 22 discontinuous days — 176 hours — between implementation and the end of fiscal 2013, with no more than 16 furlough hours per pay period.

Fiscal 2013 is just the beginning of a decade of budgetary problems, Hale said.

“The Budget Control Act actually requires that the caps on discretionary funding beyond fiscal ‘13 be lowered for defense by $50 billion to $55 billion a year,” he said. “If those come to pass, then we will have to look at a new defense strategy. That would be the first thing that we’d do.”

The new strategy would accept more risk and also be based on having a smaller military.

For now, officials “devoutly would wish for some budget stability right now,” Hale said. “And I think it would benefit the department and the nation.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
12AF_pict

AFSOUTH medics arrive in Belize to facilitate obstetrics course

Three International Health Specialists and three non-governmental organization personnel supporting the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) arrived in Belize to facilitate the Global Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics Instruc...
 
 

355th FSS invites D-M to join intramurals

The 355th Force Support Squadron would like to invite all Active Duty and Department of Defense personnel to join the intramural sports program. The intramural sports program is an organized sports competition designed to meet the needs of all personnel beginning at the lowest levels. Active duty personnel have priority in all programs as determined...
 
 

55th Electronic Combat Group

The 55th Electronic Combat Group provides combat-ready EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, crews, maintenance and operational support to combatant commanders. The group also plans and executes information operations, including information warfare and electronic attack, in support of theater campaign plans.
 

 

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. –  Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen...
 
 

Is being good, good enough?

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you...
 
 

‘Final Rule’ offers broader mental health care coverage

WASHINGTON – TRICARE military health plan beneficiaries will now have access to both TRICARE-certified mental health counselors and supervised mental health counselors, a Defense Health Agency official said here today. In an interview with DoD News, Dr. John Davison, DHA’s behavioral health branch chief, said the so-called “Final Rule,” published yesterday, will go into effect...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin