Hagel Seeks Furlough 'Consistency and Fairness' Across Defense

Defense Department

Pentagon officials are striving for consistency and fairness as they comply with sequestration budget cuts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a written response to 126 House lawmakers who last week urged the Pentagon to make ‘merit-based’ furlough decisions instead.

“While I appreciate your request to allow services the maximum flexibility to determine civilian furlough numbers, DoD’s most important responsibility is national security,” Hagel said in his April 26 letter. “In reallocating resources throughout the department to the highest national security priorities, we will strive for consistency and fairness across the department.”

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Hagel’s response. “Components and agencies should not clearly be forced to take the same number of furlough days,” Cox wrote. “If components or agencies have come up with offsetting sequestration cuts of generate their own revenues, they should not be required to impose furloughs.”

The letter lawmakers sent Hagel last week demanded that Defense implement a “merit-based” approach in regard to furloughs, and said managers should be given additional discretion to implement sequestration related budget cuts. They said that furloughs were punishing agencies that had cut costs in previous years, while granting leeway to those that were still profligate. It followed similar correspondence from Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, who said that Defense’s current approach to furloughs was damaging for readiness and morale.

Some elements within Defense, such as the Navy, have said civilian furloughs would be extremely detrimental for their operations and would likely cost the government more in the long term. However, the Pentagon has been adamant on maintaining equality and fairness because of fears of legal repercussions.

The stop-gap government funding law for the rest of fiscal 2013 allowed Defense to reduce the number of furlough days for civilians from 22 to 14. Defense is currently granting limited furlough exceptions for employees working in intelligence, public safety and health positions. Hagel recently told a congressional panel that the Pentagon would submit a large budget transfer request to help cope with sequestration cuts, and that further action on furloughs would be decided in the coming weeks.

Cox said that other federal agencies -- including the Homeland Security and Justice departments -- had “reconsidered premature decisions to impose furloughs,” and that Hagel should do the same.

“There is no budgetary or statutory reason why you can’t show similar leadership,” Cox wrote.  

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
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

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