FEDweek: The Five Ws of Sequestration: A Guide to Furloughs and Other Threats to Federal Employees

FEDweek: The Five Ws of Sequestration:
A Guide to Furloughs and Other Threats to Federal Employees

Copyright © FEDweek LLC 2013

1. Why are federal employee furloughs being threatened?

The origins go back to mid-2011 when political leaders were faced with the need to raise the federal debt ceiling. As part of a law raising the limit, deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion over 10 years was ordered. However, special bipartisan committee on that issue disbanded late in 2011 when it reached its deadline without reaching an agreement. Under the debt ceiling law, that meant automatic cuts called “sequestration” would begin with calendar year 2013, also spread out over a decade, to achieve the same amount of deficit reduction.
Many “mandatory” spending programs are exempt, including payments from federal retirement, Social Security and other benefits programs, as well as some “discretionary” programs.

However, even where a program is shielded, the administrative expenses to operate it —
including the funds to pay federal employees working in it — are subject to sequestration.
A law enacted just as those cuts averaging about 10 percent were set to hit in early January 2013 delayed the sequester until March 1 by ordering certain savings and revenues elsewhere, but inthe meantime leaders could not reach an agreement either on a long-term way to replace the sequester or on another delay. Continue reading “FEDweek: The Five Ws of Sequestration: A Guide to Furloughs and Other Threats to Federal Employees”

Some Agencies Won’t Need Furloughs Under Sequester

Some Agencies Won’t Need Furloughs Under Sequester

GAO head Gene Dodaro
GAO head Gene Dodaro Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Sequestration will not bring furloughs at every agency, as some leaders have said they can reduce their budgets in other areas to avoid requiring employees to take unpaid leave.

The Small Business Administration will rely on an anticipated reduction in a certain type of loan to cut costs, should sequestration go into effect March 1, according to an Associated Press report. Outgoing Administrator Karen Mills said fewer 504 loans — which spiked last year due to a now-expired provision allowing them to be used to refinance mortgages — will account for most of the cuts, and furloughs will not be necessary. Continue reading “Some Agencies Won’t Need Furloughs Under Sequester”

Small Businesses, Public Health, and Scientific Integrity: Whose Interests Does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration Serve?

This report examines the activities of an independent office within the Small Business Administration: the Office of Advocacy. The Office of Advocacy has responsibility for ensuring that federal agencies evaluate the small business impacts of the rules they adopt. Scientific assessments are not “rules” and do not regulate small business, yet the Office of Advocacy decided to comment on technical, scientific assessments of the cancer risks of formaldehyde, styrene, and chromium. By its own admission, Advocacy lacks the scientific expertise to evaluate the merits of such assessments.

The report analyzes correspondence and materials received through a Freedom of Information Act request made by staff at the Center for Effective Government. Our inquiry was driven by two questions. Why did the Office of Advocacy get involved in the debate over scientific assessments that do not regulate small business? Whose interests does the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration actually serve? Continue reading “Small Businesses, Public Health, and Scientific Integrity: Whose Interests Does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration Serve?”