Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today on behalf of the Pentagon that unpaid furlough days for around 650,000 civilian employees are being reduced. This announcement has been possible due to the ability to reprogram funds and savings made.
Hagel has signed a memo that indicates the cutting of furlough days for about 650,000 Department of Defense’s civilian employees from 11 to six. This implies that for most of the employees the furlough would come to an end on August 17th.
Things that are being put to immediate effect include ending of furloughs for all DOD Education personnel who are working in the activity’s school system, so that the 2013 school year does not get affected.
Hagel noted that the Congress has approved most of the reprogramming requests submitted by them, and thus it is now possible to move funds across accounts. The military services have been a bit aggressive in the past in identifying ways of cost cutting and success has been there in shifting savings and meet the highest priority needs.
Hagel had to reluctantly decide to impose furloughs in May and following this the department had to face an $11 billion shortfall. Before the furlough decision came, the management had to stop hiring any new employees, cut on facility maintenance and lay off temporary employees.
The cuts had severe effects on readiness accounts, with the Navy ships not sailing, Air Force squadrons not operating, and units of Marine Corps or the Army not training. These effects were so severe and the readiness so endangered that furloughs was seen as the best way to raise the last $2 billion required in savings.
Now the Air Force is back to flying and the Army has been able to fund organizational training. Another senior official commented that while this is good news for he department and the valued civilian workers, still a few major challenges remain.