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Federal Employees News Digest : Feb. 4, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org What's Inside44 February 4, 2013 • Vol. 62, No. 27 DOD issues furlough warning; sequester looms larger With Congress so far unable or unwill- ing to compromise on legislation to head off an otherwise mandatory 10 percent budget sequester that will go into effect in March, federal agencies are ramping up plans to trim their payrolls---with fur- loughs of federal employees as the obvious first step and RIFs possibly not far behind. Congress has failed to enact a permanent compromise on how to deal with the issue, instead budging only to pass a single, two- month delay in implementing the cuts. In the most visible step acknowledg- ing the real possibility that the cuts may go into effect, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reportedly told members of the media Jan. 25 that if no compromise is made, DOD employees will be furloughed one day each week through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The furloughs would save $5 billion, according to the Pentagon. Sequester likelihood growing "In the debate over federal spending, both sides seem to view sequestration as their hostage to make the other side nego- tiate," Todd Harrison, a military budget analyst with the Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments, told FEND. "Each side seems to think that the other won't be willing to tolerate sequestration. The risk is that both sides may be miscalculat- ing---Republicans may prefer sequestration to tax increases, and Democrats may prefer it to cuts in Social Security and Medicare. If that is the case, then it will be hard to negotiate a way out of sequestration." "I think that sequester is more likely to happen," Gordon Adams, a former budget official with the Clinton administration and currently a professor at American University, told FEND. "And that's in part because the debt ceiling agreement already has been made, and so that issue is deferred until May. So, the leverage from that---of tying the debt ceiling to the federal govern- ment's fiscal credibility---is now unhooked from spending. Now we are left with just a straight-up fight about spending---and that's just not as urgent." Adams also offered second and third reasons why he believes sequestration is more likely to occur. The second is that a short-term suspension of the sequester was enacted in January, which means that the amount of money required for the remain- der of the year is less, and so the amount of money affected by sequester would be less. Third, it's simply that "what Congress has done, it can also undo"---which makes flirt- ing with the possibility of sequester less dire. The "real big fight," as he puts it, there- fore now won't happen on March 1, when the debt ceiling is exceeded and the seques- ter goes into effect, but rather toward March 27, the expiration date on the cur- rent spending continuing resolution. "You can let it go, because---in essence--- nothing happens," Adams told FEND, speaking of the March 1 debt ceiling dead- line. "Or at least, you can structure it that Making change Years ago, a top political appointee (and some members of his staff) decided they needed to take out their own trash. They weren't doing it to go green at the office, or to save the government money. They trashed and shredded their own stuff because they suspected the career staff they inherited from the previous director were all closet mem- bers of the opposite political party, and would do their best to sabotage the new regime and continue the agenda of the previous administration. It didn't occur to them, or maybe they didn't care, that (most of) the career staff they found when they came into office had been in place through several regime changes. It didn't seem to occur to the suspicious new political team that these long-time employees might simply do their jobs. Some people who watched the suspi- cious politicals said they were merely paranoid. Others said that to treat career staff like the enemy would become a self- fulfilling exercise: If you treated them like the enemy, they would become the enemy. And a few said that, paranoid or not, the new politicals were probably smart to suspect the career civil servants of wishing them less than well. INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Union membership falls 4 • In Brief 6 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
Jan. 28, 2013
Feb. 11, 2013