Feds cut furlough days almost in half | NevadaAppeal.com

Feds cut furlough days almost in half

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Furloughs at Naval Air Station Fallon and other military installations for federal civilian employees have been reduced.
LVN FILE PHOTO |

The number of days originally designated for civilian employee furloughs at the major military installations in Northern Nevada has been reduced from 11 to six.

The furlough days were mandated by sequestration, part of a mandated deficit reducing law to cut $85 million dollars from both military and nondefense spending for both the active component and the Reserves and National Guard.

More than 650,00 civilian employees have been affected.

For the 400-plus federal employees at Naval Air Station Fallon, however, the reduction of furlough days is good news.

“Most everyone will finish their furlough days by the end of the week,” said Navy spokesman Zip Upham.

He said only the civilian employees were affected by the furloughs but not active sailors and aviators.

While the furlough days were predicted by Navy officials to impact NAS Fallon, the Hawthorne Army Depot will also feel a reduced threat. A base spokesman said 29 civilain federal employees were requested to take furlough days.

The Nevada Military Department’s more than 530 dual and non-dual status National Guardsmen were affected by furloughs. Dual employees not only conduct technician jobs but they are also required to keep membership as a soldier or airman in the National Guard. A non-dual employees is a civilian working for the Department of Defense.

The reason or the reduced number of furlough days came as a result of savings in other defense areas.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week Pentagon officials found enough savings in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year to reduce furlough days.

“Hoping to be able to reduce furloughs, we submitted a large reprogramming proposal to Congress in May, asking them to let us move funds from acquisition accounts into day-to-day operating accounts,” Hagel said.

“Congress approved most of this request in late July, and we are working with them to meet remaining needs,” Hagel said. “We are also experiencing less than expected costs in some areas, such as transportation of equipment out of Afghanistan. Where necessary, we have taken aggressive action to transfer funds among services and agencies. And the furloughs have saved us money.”

According to the National Guard in Washington, D.C., dual-status technicians were the only members of the federal work force wearing military uniforms who were subject to a reduction in their duty days because of sequestration. The National Guard is also worried that $52 billion in proposed cuts in fiscal year 2014 could hamper readiness and personnel.

“Military technicians perform vital training, maintenance and administrative functions that maintain the high level of readiness required for critical domestic and overseas missions,” said the Guard.

Earlier this year, Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., a Mississippi guardsman, successfully included language in the House Appropriations bill that would exempt military technicians from sequester furloughs. On the U.S. Senate side, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced similar legislation.

While all active duty military personnel are exempt from sequestration, dual-status technicians are not, even though these technicians are really the effective equivalent of the uniformed personnel in the active duty component. This bill would fix that,” said Collins.