Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters Tuesday that the Defense Department was hoping to reduce the number of furlough days required under across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration.
Defense announced last Thursday that it was going to delay the issuance of furlough notices for two weeks to analyze how the continuing resolution President Obama signed Tuesday affects the Pentagon’s budget. The spending bill shifted resources at Defense, moving nearly $10 billion into operations and maintenance accounts, and restoring the military’s tuition assistance program.
Little told reporters that the Pentagon hoped to “make a decision relatively soon” on furloughs and exceptions. Last week, the Army and Air Force released formal memos on the classes of employees that would not be subject to sequestration-related furloughs. Most of the exceptions are being given to employees paid through non-appropriated funds, intelligence personnel, or those who work in public safety and health positions.
A spokeswoman for Defense told Government Executive last week that furlough notices were expected to go out April 5, and furloughs would begin no earlier than May 6.
“This is a decision that we didn't take lightly, and it's problematic on many levels,” Little said on Tuesday. “But, when you're faced with a series of tough choices, this is one we felt like we had to make."
Per the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Defense Department must find a way to cut $46 billion by the end of fiscal 2013 on Sept. 30. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently told Asian defense ministers that he expected sequestration to be “temporary.”