Several Agencies Still Mum on Furloughs

Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan has repeatedly warned of furloughs, but no notices have gone out and a department spokeswoman confirmed no decisions have been made. Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan has repeatedly warned of furloughs, but no notices have gone out and a department spokeswoman confirmed no decisions have been made. Jessica Hill/AP

Several federal agencies have left their employees in sequestration limbo, failing to provide any details on the effects the automatic budget cuts will have on their workforces.

Though sequestration is a 10-year budget reduction program, agencies have only begun scheduling furloughs through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Most agencies have either sent out official furlough notices or have announced that they don’t intend to require the unpaid leave, but some agencies are still undecided.

Workers at Cabinet-level departments, such as Health and Human Services and Education, as well as some at smaller agencies like the Social Security Administration and Government Printing Office, have not received word of whether they will be forced to take furlough days in fiscal 2013 or any update on when a decision will come. There are just five months left in the fiscal year.

“HHS has not issued any official furlough notices at this time, and we have not made any specific decisions at this time about implementing any furloughs in the future,” department spokesman Bill Hall told Government Executive.

Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan has repeatedly warned of furloughs -- telling Congress in February Education might have to furlough “many of its own employees for multiple days” -- but no notices have gone out and a department spokeswoman confirmed no decisions have been made.

The Government Printing Office has attempted to implement other cuts throughout the agency to avoid furloughs, but still may need to implement unpaid leave.

“To offset a potential decline in GPO’s business resulting from the impact of the sequester on other federal agencies, we have cut spending, implemented a hiring freeze, and deferred investments,” agency spokesman Gary Somerset told Government Executive. “To date in this fiscal year, these efforts have helped us avert the need for furloughs.”

He would not rule out the need for furloughs, however, adding: “We will take the necessary steps should furloughs be required by changes in our business beyond our control.”

A union official who represents GPO workers said the agency has been “vague and evasive” in dealing with questions about the effects sequestration will have on the workforce.

“We have been in negotiations with management for about six weeks with no end in sight,” said George Lord, chairman of the Joint Council of Unions for GPO.

In February, SSA told Congress it was “uncertain” about the need for furloughs. The agency did not return multiple requests for an update, but has not issued an official statement on the necessity of forcing unpaid leave.

The furlough fate of nearly 800,000 civilians at the Defense Department also remains uncertain, although the Pentagon has said it will reach a decision “in the near future.”  

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.


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