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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec. 17, 2012
December 17, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 23 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com How likely is a turnaround on the cuts? "Look, now there's no comparable amendment to the one [calling for these cuts] in the House, and the White House and the DOD are strongly opposed," Threlkeld said. "But Sen. McCain, the ranking member, and Sen. Levin, the chairman, seem to feel very passionately about going through with these cuts---so I'm not bursting with optimism that we'll avoid the cuts." Before the defeat of his amendment, Cardin issued a Nov. 28 statement, say- ing that his amendment would stop DOD from "arbitrarily" cutting 36,000 civilian positions and thousands of con- tractor jobs through fiscal 2017---job cuts that would come in addition to already planned workforce cuts. Cardin called the cuts "draconian" and inconsis- tent with the law. "A slash-and-burn approach to downsizing the civilian and contractor workforce is contrary to current law and runs the risk of undermining our military mission and national security," Cardin stated. "The DOD has already announced plans to downsize its civilian and contractor workforce, but it is being done in accordance with law and with consideration to mission and workload. Automatic cuts to the civilian and con- tactor workforce is unlawful, ill-advised and could leave our nation vulnerable." House-Senate conferencing on the bill is ongoing. If passed into law, the cuts will go into effect over several years, through 2017. Threlkeld noted that the 5 percent cuts would come not only in addition to some already planned cuts in the current "draw- down" at DOD, but also on top of equally indiscriminate cuts that would hit if the "fis- cal cliff " talks fail, and sequestration ensues. "We start with this, and then if seques- tration kicks in---with Congress and the president failing to come up with a solu- tion to the budget problem---these cuts will begin," Threlkeld told FEND. "This Congress would adjourn and then we'd be left with this---although the president does have a veto threat on some other aspects of this bill," Threlkeld said, offering a possible timeline. "It really is similar to sequestration in that it's an arbitrary reduction in the defense industrial base, and it would probably complicate the current recovery. On its own, it's a mini-sequestration." "Republicans for a long time have been in favor of arbitrarily reducing the federal workforce, 5 or 10 percent---and unfor- tunately they just might achieve that, at least for the defense workforce," he said. "McCain and backers of this amendment just don't seem to appreciate that military personnel, civilian military and contrac- tors are unique, and each have their own missions; just because you cut one by a certain percentage doesn't mean you should cut the others equally." more contractors? Threlkeld cites the White House's Statement of Administration Policy regarding the proposed cuts, which says that the cuts are so large that they will force the DOD to not perform needed work. "Our fear is that in the end, the DOD will respond by saying, notwithstanding the McCain cuts, 'hey, we still need to come up with all this work and so we'll just have to contract this out,'" Threlkeld said. "Instead of rational, surgical cuts to each of the three workforces for DOD, the arbi- trary nature of the McCain cuts will lead to contracting out---or to DOD no longer performing certain necessary functions." "We're not saying that the DOD should not be downsized," Threlkeld told FEND. "Especially given that we are drawing down our forces, and [as a nation] we are no longer prepared to spend as much on defense. We are just saying let's make those reductions based on real workload analysis. Let's not go back to the 1990s, when cuts only ended up costing more, because DOD wound up contracting out the work previously done by employees." "The bottom line is that right now it is easier for DOD to make cuts to the civilian workforce, but not so much to the contractors---because they just don't have an inventory of service contracts that is tied directly into their budget," Threlkeld said. "We're quite confident the DOD will cut the civilian workforce---as it has proven itself capable of this. But it has not shown that it is really capable of cutting the contractor workforce." To illustrate, Threlkeld cited DOD reports showing that in 2012 military personnel will drop by 30,000 and civil- ian personnel by "almost 11,000." Yet, over the same year, service contractors will grow by over 18,000, he said. "There's no question the DOD must get smaller," Threlkeld said. "And it is getting smaller. So there is no reason for piling on arbitrary cuts. It doesn't make any sense---it will unnecessarily cut thousands of employees' jobs, and it will backfire." "Forty-one senators get this point, but unfortunately 53 didn't. The White House gets it, the DOD gets it and the House gets it," Threlkeld said. "But as you know, Sen. McCain is a force of nature and now we are not optimistic that we will prevail in conference---but we'll see. We need to do a better job on this." Slow-go possible Threlkeld held out hope that certain factors may limit the cuts. "The anticipated reduction is 5 percent of civilian employees---and that's about 36,000 jobs. But there are certain 'func- tions' that are specifically excluded in the bill from being cut, and depending continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 5
Dec. 10, 2012
Jan. 14, 2013