Furloughs for civilian employees at the Defense Department could begin as soon as April 26, Defense Comptroller Robert Hale said on Monday.
Hale told participants and viewers at a sequestration town hall that the Pentagon had asked commanders to begin a review to identify civilians who would be exempted from furloughs, the American Forces Press Service reported. Across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration mean that Defense civilians may face 22 days of unpaid furloughs by the end of fiscal 2013 on Sept. 30.
Hale said that Pentagon officials will complete their review of potential exemptions on March 15, after which furlough notices will be distributed. He said civilian employees will have a week to appeal their furlough notices, followed by a 30-day waiting period.
“At the end of that period, we can send decisions of furloughs, and those furloughs can start,” Hale said.
Hale told participants that unions negotiating for employees “don’t have the right to bargain not to do the furloughs” but do have the right to negotiate their implementation.
Last week, Hale sent a memo to senior Pentagon staff providing agencies additional guidance for the across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration. Programs facing the budget axe include tuition assistance for service members, much of the military’s public affairs apparatus and civilian bonuses.