WASHINGTON—Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that civilian furloughs will be reduced from 11 to 6 days.
In a written statement, Hagel explained that the reduction in days is a result of savings and a large reprogramming proposal DoD submitted to Congress in May that Congress approved.
“Congress approved most of this request in late July, and we are working with them to meet remaining needs,” he said. “We are also experiencing less than expected costs in some areas, such as transportation of equipment out of Afghanistan. Where necessary, we have taken aggressive action to transfer funds among services and agencies, and the furloughs have saved us money.”
Hagel said that DoD still faces “major challenges” as it looks ahead to FY 2014.
“If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DoD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on October 1,” he said. “This represents 40% 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.”
American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement that “AFGE has argued from the start that the Department of Defense furloughs were always the worst possible way for the department to absorb sequestration’s cuts.”
Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) said in a written statement that while he was pleased that DoD “found a way to alleviate furloughs and introduce a little more certainty into the workforce,” that they are still “miles away from resolving sequestration.”