WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s top leadership, including the service secretaries and service chiefs, updated Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Oct. 7 on the impact of the ongoing government shutdown, Pentagon officials reported.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, officials said Hagel was pleased that most DOD civilians are returning to work this week, and that he 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, critical programs and benefits remain halted, officials said. For example, they noted, the department does not 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 service member’s death.
In addition, officials said, emergency funding that supports commanders on the ground and intelligence activities remains unavailable, and service leaders reported that they are further curtailing training for later deploying units – an activity that already had been reduced due to sequestration spending cuts.
Hagel assured the service leaders that he would work closely with them to address these challenges, and support the service members and families affected by these disruptions, officials said. 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, they added.
The secretary will continue to receive regular updates and review authorities to expend funds during this lapse in appropriations, the statement said.