No Furloughs at Agriculture Through September

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Evan Vucci/AP

The Agriculture Department will not have to furlough any of its employees in fiscal 2013 because of budget cuts.

Congressional appropriators have approved the department’s request to shift funds within the Rural Development division to avoid furloughing about 4,800 employees because of sequestration, according to House and Senate aides. Lawmakers had until Thursday to respond to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s April 23 request to use special limited budget flexibility -- what’s known as interchange transfer authority -- to cover salary shortfalls in Rural Development in fiscal 2013.

That means the department’s roughly 94,000 employees are off the hook in fiscal 2013. Furloughs are not on the table for any other Agriculture agencies this fiscal year.

Agriculture is one of a few departments that have interchange transfer authority, “which allows for transfers of up to 7 percent among certain accounts within an individual USDA agency,” said Michael Young, the department’s director of budget and analysis, in March congressional testimony.

Vilsack in April told House appropriators that employees at the Farm Service Agency and Rural Development could be forced to take up to 10 furlough days because of a 2.5 percent cut to Agriculture’s budget -- on top of sequestration -- in the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution enacted in March. The department was able to avert furloughs at FSA, which has 11,928 employees, by freezing hiring, cutting discretionary operating and contract expenses, and transferring unused funds from a conservation program to cover salaries. Meat inspectors at Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service also avoided furloughs this fiscal year when Congress added funds to the CR. The efforts to avoid furloughs at Agriculture, as well as at the Federal Aviation Administration, Education and Justice departments, and other agencies reinforce the conventional political wisdom that Congress could be content to scale back the sequester in a piecemeal fashion, based on pressure from the public, or powerful interest groups, rather than in one fell swoop.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced legislation on Monday that would replace the mandatory across-the-board budget cuts through fiscal 2014. Van Hollen, who is ranking member of the Budget Committee, has introduced similar bills unsuccessfully during the last few months.

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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