By SAM HANANEL 03/08/13 03:04 PM ET EST
WASHINGTON — First there was a two-year pay freeze. Now furloughs loom, as federal agencies make personnel costs a prime target for across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect last week. The result: anxiety and low morale in a workforce often envied for its job security.
“It would certainly put a strain on things,” said Jonathan Schweizer, 61, an environmental engineer at the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago who could be forced to take up to 13 days of unpaid leave this year. “I’d probably have to run up some credit card debt or defer maintenance on my home that I’d otherwise consider important.” Continue reading “Furloughs Vary Widely At Government Agencies Amid Sequestration Cuts”
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”