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Furloughs necessary, Hagel says

Published: 03:11PM May 16th, 2013

WASHINGTON — In a message to the Defense Department workforce, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday he had “very reluctantly” decided that a historic budget shortfall necessitates up to 11 unpaid furlough days for most of the department’s civilian employees between July 8 and the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

The secretary had hoped to avoid furloughs altogether.

Hagel cited the law that went into effect March 1 that “imposes deep across-the-board cuts on DOD and other federal agencies” and “higher than expected wartime operating costs” precipitated the action. He said DOD has done “everything possible to reduce this ($30 billion) shortfall,” including cutting back on facilities maintenance and shifting funds from investment accounts (to operations and maintenance).

“I know that the furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DOD operations,” he said. “I recognize the significant hardship this places on you and your families.”

Hagel said if the “budgetary situation” permits an end to DOD furloughs before that date, he will act to end the unpaid administrative days as soon as practical.

“That is a decision I will make later in the year,” he said.