NOAA Cancels Planned Employee Furloughs

Acting Commerce Undersecretary Kathryn Sullivan told employees that department officials were able to obtain budget flexibility, allowing the agency to avoid furloughs for all 12,000 of its employees. Acting Commerce Undersecretary Kathryn Sullivan told employees that department officials were able to obtain budget flexibility, allowing the agency to avoid furloughs for all 12,000 of its employees. Dan Joling/AP file photo

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration canceled furloughs for its employees after the Commerce Department and congressional negotiators agreed on a new budget deal, according to multiple reports.

In an all-hands memo sent late Friday, acting Commerce Undersecretary Kathryn Sullivan told employees that department officials were able to obtain budget flexibility, allowing the agency to transfer funds and avoid furloughs for all 12,000 of its employees.

The recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Missouri reminded everyone of “how important every single employee within NOAA is to the health, safety, and well-being of this nation,” she said in the memo, which was obtained by SpaceNews.com.

“While this new plan allows us to avoid furloughs, sequestration remains an ongoing challenge,” Sullivan added. “We must all continue to scrutinize every expense and prioritize our most critical missions and essential operations.”

Rep. Richard M. Nolan, D-Minn., wrote a letter in early May to acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Sullivan asking them to cancel furloughs at the agency, which includes the National Weather Service. 

NOAA officials had warned that furloughs would be detrimental to the agency’s ability to “support effective forecast operations during either tropical or severe weather events.” Union officials, especially leaders from the National Weather Service Employees Organization, also have pushed Commerce officials to eliminate sequestration related furloughs. 

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