Defense Expected to Cut Furlough Days to 11

Defense Department file photo

Update: Defense Secretary Hagel detailed the new furlough plan on Tuesday. See our story here.  

The Defense Department is likely to cut the number of civilian furlough days from 14 to 11, and will probably add additional exceptions for certain classes of workers, according to an Associated Press report.

The services are set to be granted exceptions for civilians working at shipyards and depots, because of concerns that those furloughs would be detrimental for long-term modernization and readiness efforts, according to the report. Defense officials told the AP that timing and notification period requirements will make it difficult to fit in more than 12 furlough days by the end of the fiscal year. An official told the AP that some Defense managers wanted to further cut the number of furlough days to nine.

No final decision has officially been announced, though that could come as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Defense civilians were originally expected to take 22 furlough days, but that number was reduced to 14 after the stopgap fiscal 2013 funding act shifted $10 billion into the military’s operations and maintenance budget. According to the AP, Congress cleared Defense to reprogram $7.5 billion to help cover shortfalls caused by higher operating tempos in Afghanistan. The Army is likely to get the vast majority -- nearly $5 billion -- of the transferred money to help cover equipment transportation out of Afghanistan, according to the AP.

Still, Bloomberg News reported that nearly 650,000 of the Pentagon’s 800,000 civilians are set to face unpaid furlough days this summer. 

The furlough news comes ahead of a town hall meeting that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is having with Washington Headquarters Services staff Tuesday afternoon. Hagel, along with other Defense officials, originally wanted to take a consistent, departmentwide approach with civilian furloughs.  However, some reports have indicated that Hagel has been pushing Defense officials to find ways to help reduce the number of furloughs required for civilian employees. 

The news is likely to get some pushback from Capitol Hill. In a tweet sent out on Tuesday morning, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Hagel was “ignoring billions in waste at [the] Pentagon, while continuing to implement furloughs.” 

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