Lawmakers Urge 'Merit-Based' Furlough Decisions at Defense

Chuck Hagel recently told a House panel that further action on furloughs would be decided in the coming weeks. Chuck Hagel recently told a House panel that further action on furloughs would be decided in the coming weeks. Defense Department

This story has been updated with Defense Department comment. 

A bipartisan group of 126 lawmakers is asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to “review sequestration-related actions” affecting civilian employees, especially furloughs, hiring freezes, and the firing of temporary and term personnel.

The letter, dated April 23 and signed by members of the House, asked Hagel to take a merit-based approach to furloughs and give managers additional discretion to implement cuts that “comply with sequestration.” The Defense Department is punishing agencies that complied with staff drawdowns in fiscal 2009 and 2010, while “appearing to reward” those that have not reduced their staffs yet, the lawmakers said. 

“In essence, under the current furlough guidance, the more streamlined, efficient organizations are footing the bill for those that are still over strength,” they wrote.

The letter follows similar correspondence to Hagel from Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. The Republican and the Independent questioned whether Defense’s across-the-board approach to furloughs to maintain fairness was worth the costs in readiness and morale.

Hagel recently told a House panel that further action on furloughs would be decided in the coming weeks. Pentagon officials are preparing to submit a budget transfer request to Congress to help manage the across-the-board budget cuts under sequestration.

Defense spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in an email to Government Executive that the department would contact the legislators directly regarding the letter. She cited Hagel’s testimony in Congress and said that “there has been no change in guidance.” The department is “prepared to send out furlough notices in May to defense civilian employees,” she said. 

The American Federation of Government Employees backed the letter and also led a campaign to gather signatures in local districts. In a statement released Wednesday, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said he was heartened to find lawmakers going “on the record with their support for the work that civilian employees do.”

He added: “Our civilian employees are vital to ensuring the safety and security of the military mission, and the Pentagon needs to stop targeting civilian personnel.”

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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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