Defense budget chief: Sequester would have serious impact on civilians

Defense CFO Robert Hale Defense CFO Robert Hale Caitlin Fairchild/GovExec.com

Civilian personnel in the Defense Department will be "seriously affected" if a budget sequester takes effect next year, the Pentagon's top budget official said Tuesday.

There will be a "high probability" of both a hiring freeze and furloughs of current employees should Congress allow the sequestration process to go forward, said Robert Hale, undersecretary of Defense and chief financial officer. Hale spoke at a Government Executive event in Arlington, Va.

A hiring freeze and furloughs "probably can't be avoided" in a sequester scenario, Hale said. He said the department “probably won’t look at reductions-in-force” to achieve savings as part of sequestration because they cost too much money. He also said he couldn’t give any specific numbers on possible furloughs.

"There's a long process with furloughs," Hale said. "It will adversely affect our missions, mot to mention the people involved."

Benefits could be affected as well, Hale said. For example, under a sequester, the Pentagon wouldn't have enough money to pay all of its bills under TRICARE, Defense's health care system. And Defense would have to cut back on family housing maintenance. 

"We need to stop this because it's not good policy and we need to avoid it," Hale said of the looming cutbacks.

He said the Defense Department had yet to do detailed planning for a potential sequester. "We don't have a specific timetable" for such planning, he added, "but I'm mindful that we're going to have to figure one out fairly soon." The department is consulting with the Office of Management and Budget on the planning process.

“I know this frustrates people, but we don’t have a detailed plan,” he said.

Hale said that in the absence of a sequester, Defense would, on the whole, be able to operate normally under a six-month continuing resolution that Congress approved on Saturday. But he said even that would present significant management and budgetary challenges. For example, the CR does not give the department the authority to start new weapons programs, or to increase production rates. "It's inefficient and unfortunate," Hale said of stop-and-start budgeting. "We need Congress to return to an orderly budget process."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.