FBI Plans 10 Furlough Days for 2014

FBI Director James Comey FBI Director James Comey Evan Vucci/AP

The FBI is planning 10 agencywide furlough days in fiscal 2014 should sequestration continue as expected, according to The New York Times.

While the bureau will shutter its national headquarters in Washington and regional offices nationwide, it will maintain a small staff on the furlough days. The FBI spends $16 million on salaries each day, the Times reported, which accounts for 60 percent of its budget.

The furlough days will wrap around weekends, which will accentuate savings by limiting the costs of reopening offices. The exact dates have not yet been set, but will be spread out to minimize the impact on employees. Employees may be called back to work if circumstances, such as a terrorist attack, require additional agents.

The Justice Department -- the FBI’s parent agency -- avoided furloughs in fiscal 2013 after Congress allowed it to reprogram funds to cover sequestration-induced shortfalls. However, former FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress the bureau could not avoid the mandatory unpaid leave in fiscal 2014.

“I have long said people are the bureau’s greatest asset,” Mueller, who led the FBI for 12 years before stepping down in September, said in congressional testimony in May. “Additional operational cuts and furloughs will impact the FBI’s ability to prevent crime and terrorism, which will in turn impact the safety and security of our nation.”

The bureau’s new director, James Comey, said in a recent press conference he intended to publicize the impacts of sequestration as much as possible.

“I can’t imagine that if we have charged people with protecting their fellow citizens, that it makes sense to send them home and tell them you can’t work [and won’t be paid] for two weeks”  he said.

He added on top of the furloughs, the FBI has about 3,000 fewer employees as a result of an ongoing hiring freeze. The bureau has already cut training and will not buy new vehicles, according to the Times.

The FBI will have to cut about $700 million from its budget in fiscal 2014, should sequestration continue to be implemented as expected, after absorbing $550 million in cuts in fiscal 2013. Congress also appropriated $150 million less for fiscal 2013. 

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