Hagel: Furloughs Must be Consistent Across DoD

April 30, 2013

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has rebuffed calls to give the military services the flexibility to reduce or eliminate furloughs for civilian workers on their own.

In managing across-the-board spending cuts, “we will strive for consistency and fairness across the department,” Hagel said in an April 26 letter to members of Congress.

Hagel was responding to a bipartisan plea from 126 members of Congress last week urging him to give the services, as well as other Defense Department agencies, the discretion to handle furloughs as they deem best.

Pentagon leaders instead have taken a uniform approach in spreading the pain of sequester-related reductions among their almost 800,000 civilian employees. After first planning on up to 22 furlough days by the end of September, Hagel last month pared that number to 14 days following passage of the latest congressional spending bill. “We are examining every option for responsible cuts in order to minimize or possibly eliminate the necessity of furloughs,” Hagel said in his letter, adding that he will make a decision “soon” on how much unpaid time off will be required.

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