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ExecutiveGov Counts Agency Sequestration Furloughs, Personnel Actions

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EgovLogoMany federal agencies are faced with the decision over whether to implement furloughs, where agencies would put employees on unpaid leave for a determined amount of time as a means to cope with budget cuts under sequestration.

ExecutiveGov has tracked the directives from agencies and their plans to undertake personnel actions as a result of the $85 billion cut for this fiscal year.

The Defense Department, which has nearly 800,000 civilians on its payroll, had to push back its scheduled start date of sending furlough notices to workers from March 21 to April 5 after Congress passed a new continuing resolution.

During that two-week period, Pentagon officials will examine the CR to determine how the legislation affects the department’s plans to manage sequestration.

Under the new timetable, the Pentagon would have 21 weeks until the end of the fiscal year to manage the cuts and would start sending furlough notices to May 6 at the earliest.

At the same time, the Pentagon is also determining which employees it will not furlough and Frank Kendall, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, outlined one exemption to the Pentagon’s furlough policy before a Newseum audience March 12.

Civilians working in war zones will not be furloughed and they should not worry about being furloughed, Kendall said.

One Cabinet department has taken the step of issuing furlough notices, as the Labor Department has notified 4,700 of its employees they will have to take one unpaid day off per month by the end of September.

DOL is aiming to hone most of its cuts on contracts or grant programs as a means to avoid as many furloughs as possible.

Some agencies believe they can avoid furloughs altogether and find cuts in other avenues, with at least five agencies not having plans to put their employees on unpaid leave.

The Office of Personnel Management, Government Accountability Office, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Small Business Administration and Smithsonian belong to that group of five.

OPM implemented a hiring freeze and other administrative measures to manage the cuts and also froze hiring last year to prepare for a potential sequester.

In GAO’s case, the government’s watchdog agency will make cuts to hiring, retention programs, travel and information technology as opposed to furloughs.

Gene Dodaro, comptroller general, told agency employees the January compromise to avert the fiscal cliff reduced the amount of the sequester to a number GAO thinks it can manage without resorting to furloughs.

SBA will cut its loan guarantees by approximately 3 percent over what it guaranteed in fiscal year 2012.

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