Agencies Take Concrete Steps Now That Sequester Is Law

A Secret Service official said planning began in December and options under consideration include cuts in travel and equipment purchases, and furloughs. A Secret Service official said planning began in December and options under consideration include cuts in travel and equipment purchases, and furloughs. Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock.com file photo

However reluctant he may have been politically, President Obama on Tuesday signed the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution locking in the sequester, and agencies began their long-dreaded move toward concrete action to apply $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe sent employees an email Tuesday saying sequestration “posed great challenges for the entire federal family” and sketched progress made since planning began in December to cut $425 million from the budget.

Some 80 percent of the reductions, he said, are from non-payroll items, such as grants, infrastructure programs, contracts, and operating and travel expenses. The remaining 20 percent do hit payroll, the memo added, which means furlough letters will go out the first week of April. “We understand that the furlough process will be difficult, and we remain committed to reducing its impact on employees and their families as best we can,” Perciasepe wrote.

A Secret Service official told Government Executive agency planning began in December and options under consideration include cuts in travel and equipment purchases, and furloughs. “Our protective mission and the level of security and vigilance we provide to those we protect cannot and will not be affected,” spokesman Brian Leary said.

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, a spokesman said no furloughs are planned, but “we are reducing hiring, travel, training, and investments in technology.”

A Center for Budget and Policy Priorities study released late last week breaks down the law’s 50-50 split between mandatory defense and non-defense cuts totaling $109 billion annually over the next decade. The Pentagon would be hit with $42.7 billion in cuts each year, nearly all of it in discretionary programs. In nondefense programs, discretionary programs would be hit by $25.8 million annually, and Medicare would be reduced by $11.3 billion each year.

A CBS News poll released on Tuesday showed that 41 percent of respondents think sequestration will be bad for the country, with 28 percent saying it will be good. The percentage who believe the sequester will have no impact doubled, from 12 percent to 23 percent, over the past two weeks. Republicans are blamed for the across-the-board cuts by 39 percent and President Obama, by 35 percent. This represents another shift toward the Republican argument that the sequester cuts are preferable to no cuts, despite the president’s earlier vow that sequestration would never take place.

An array of Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have complained about sequestration’s impact on their home-district airports, following the Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement last Friday that the budget blade will force it to close down 149 contract-run air traffic control towers.

Round-ups by left-leaning blogs such as Talking Points Memo and the Daily Kos quoted several complaints. “I am disappointed to learn of the FAA’s decision,” wrote Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. “There is plenty of waste that can be trimmed by administrators implementing the budget sequester and there is absolutely no need to put Columbia [Mo.] workers on unemployment because of the Obama administration’s poor choices on where to cut.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said the decision reflected “a troubling lack of priorities,” adding, “Throughout this decision-making process, I have been in touch with FAA and [Transportation Department] officials urging them to focus first on eliminating waste and trimming non-essential items in the FAA’s budget before they even consider shutting down essential safety operations.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., issued a statement saying “the FAA budget is being cut by 5 percent, while the FAA is cutting contract towers by 75 percent.” He said the agency must reevaluate its decision and promised to inquire into the role of public unions in the action.

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.