Furlough proposal notices are set to be delivered through June 5 triggering the 30-day notice required by law before leave can begin. The furloughs are part of the Pentagon’s efforts to make up $37 billion in cuts from sequestration that kicked in March 1 and led to a $20 billion shortfall in the operations and maintenance accounts that fund civilian employees.
The furloughs are expected to save the Pentagon $1.8 billion this year but, in an interview with American Forces Press Service, two senior defense officials conceded they expect reduced efficiencies across the department.
“These people aren’t doing PowerPoint slides in the Pentagon,” one official told American Forces Press Service. “They are mostly outside of the Pentagon. They fix our ships, our tanks, our planes. They staff our hospitals. They’re teachers in our schools. I think we are going to seriously adversely affect the productivity in almost all support areas of the Department of Defense.”
The Pentagon official also said the department recognized the financial impact the furloughs will have, as well as the effect on morale.
“I believe that they (civilian workers) will continue to perform in an admirable manner,” the official added, “but I am sure that there will be some morale impact.”
Some 650,000 Pentagon workers will be furloughed through the end of the fiscal year. About 150,000 civilian employees, including Navy shipyard and nuclear maintenance workers and those stationed in combat zones, are exempt from furloughs. Department of Defense officials said the percentage of workers not taking furlough could increase based on the number of intelligence personnel that are exempted.
Plans call for workers to be furloughed one day per week through September, but commanders are given some flexibility on determining individual leave schedules.