Government agencies largely avoided sequestration furloughs in 2013.7:36 AM, Mar 13, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
As sequestration bore down in February 2013, the threat of furloughs for thousands of government workers was a common refrain from those warning of the dire effects of the across the board budget cuts. Janet Napolitano, then-head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told Rep. Bennie Thompson in a letter that sequestration could force her department to idle law enforcement personnel for up to 14 days. As it turned out, DHS did not furlough any personnel, but rather relied on cuts to other areas and shifting funds from other budgets to cover salaries. For instance, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shifted $7 million from its border security fencing account to salaries and expenses.
The details are spelled out in a new wide-ranging report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on how 23 different agencies and their various departments handled sequestration. The CBP's actions were explained as follows:
DHS reported that 7 of its 15 components planned up to 22 furlough days for employees in 2013. For example, in February 2013, DHS's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) notified employees of the possibility of 14 furlough days, but ultimately required no furlough days. According to agency officials, CBP was able to avert furloughs in part because the agency transferred $7 million from its Border Security Fencing Infrastructure and Technology accounts to its Salaries and Expenses account and reprogrammed at least $69 million between various PPAs within the Salaries and Expenses account.
DHS was not alone in avoiding furloughs. Of the 23 agencies reviewed in the GAO report, only seven ended up utilizing furloughs to achieve the needed cuts, affecting about 770,000 employees from 1 to 7 days. The Department of Defense (DOD) reported the lion's share of the furloughs, accounting for 88 percent, or $1.2 billion, of the dollars saved by the federal government via furloughs. Of the 774,366 workers impacted by furloughs, 82 percent worked for the DOD.
Overall, furloughing employees was one of the least utilized means of achieving the cuts required by sequestration. The report detailed the more common methods: "19 agencies reported curtailing hiring; 16 reported rescoping or delaying contracts or grants for core mission activities; 19 reported reducing employee training; and 20 reported reducing employee travel."
The GAO produced an infographic as part of its report, which includes this summary of the primary methods that agencies used to cut the $80.5 billion that was ultimately required:
The GAO recommended that agencies publish the criteria used to determine how sequestration was implemented and how exemptions were determined, and also how the principles used to make decisions in 2013 could be applied to future sequestrations should the occasion arise.
4:25 PM, Dec 4, 2013 • By ROGER I. ZAKHEIM and THOMAS DONNELLY
House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon doesn’t look like an insurgent. The quintessential Californian – a man of Reaganesque optimism whose congressional district now includes the Gipper’s presidential library – McKeon has been a steadfast supporter of House speaker John Boehner in turbulent times. Yet, to the green-eyeshade editorialists of the Wall Street Journal, McKeon is leading a “rebellion” of defense hawks, an “act of masochism” threatening the Holy of Holies: the sequestration provision of the Budget Control Act (BCA). McKeon’s crime is that he’s hoping for a 2014 budget deal that would reduce the amount of defense sequestration by half.
3:08 PM, Oct 22, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It is widely recognized that the effects of the Sequester are felt most emphatically at the Pentagon and in the services. As reported by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. at Breaking Defense, the point was driven home, yesterday, by chief of staff of the Army, General Ray Ordierno, who said:
The arguments that justified Obamacare are already being discredited. Here’s how to replace it.Sep 2, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 48 • By YUVAL LEVIN
In the continuing debate over Obamacare, both the law’s champions and its critics are now focused largely on the mechanics of implementation. This is understandable. The insurance exchanges are supposed to launch October 1, most of the law’s other major provisions take effect January 1, and every week seems to bring fresh news of some delay or dysfunction for critics to highlight and defenders to justify or dismiss.
1:21 PM, Aug 19, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The latest sequester victim: lawyers. As of September 1, court-appointed panel attorneys for the federal defender program will be hit with a $15/hour reduction in compensation. The following announcement appeared Monday on the United States Courts website:
2:26 PM, Aug 13, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Sequestration has been blamed for everything from cancelled White House tours to military cutbacks that threaten national security to government worker furloughs.
10:39 AM, Aug 9, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
"When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident that
the first question that comes to everyone's lips is: 'Where's the nearest carrier?'"
(President Bill Clinton, March 12, 1993, aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt)
Twenty years later, it appears that the answer to that question will soon be, "The carriers are in mothballs." Rusting away. We can't afford them any longer."
1:17 PM, Jul 30, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
While furloughs of civilian employees of the Defense Department have not lived up to the pre-sequester billing, the Pentagon is doing what it can to ease the pain for those who will be taking involuntary time off. The American Forces Press Service is reporting that the director of the Pentagon's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (WMR) program is urging furloughed civilians to tap into "fitness, recreational and educational services, often at no charge or for significantly less than one might pay just outside an installation’s gates." The list of "free or low-cost" offerings is extensive:
In the Air Force.2:25 PM, Jul 26, 2013 • By MACKENZIE EAGLEN
As the sequester sinks in and starts to hit the U.S. military, many have focused on the impact of unpaid furlough days for civilians, air shows grounded, and fireworks foregone.
Jul 22, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 42 • By GARY SCHMITT and THOMAS DONNELLY
In 2012, the Department of Defense spent a total of $651 billion, including the costs of fighting in Afghanistan. According to the budget plan submitted by the White House a few months ago, projected 2014 spending will be $547 billion. If, as seems nearly inevitable, the “sequestration” provision of the Budget Control Act is triggered, that figure will fall below $500 billion, a loss of more than 20 percent in just two years.
10:09 AM, Jul 1, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Remember how the sequester was supposed to ravage the landscape? The automatic spending cuts would, we were told, cause all manner of pain and suffering – inconvenience, even – as David A. Fahrenthold & Lisa Rein of the Washington Post report, we were warned:
9:09 AM, Jun 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse blamed the latest jobs report on the sequester and the Republicans: