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Federal Employees News Digest : Feb. 4, 2013
February 4, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 27 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com way. When we pass the sequester deadline, nobody walks into the Treasury, locks up the vault and throws away the key saying, 'Now you have no more money.' "Instead, when you cross that dead- line, sequester is announced. That is, the Office of Management and Budget sends out guidance to all the agencies about the amounts, and the programs and activities, that will be affected for each agency. Then it will issue further guidance about whether that should be implemented right away, or [treated] as if it will get fixed." Specifically, OMB would advise some agencies, through a process called appor- tionment, that they could keep spending at the current rate, under the assump- tion that sequester would be rolled back shortly, Adams explained. DoD ready—or not? "I don't think it is possible for DOD to do a good job managing sequestration," Harrison told FEND. "[That's] because the law does not give DOD the flexibility it would need to make smart decisions. It requires that all programs, projects, and activities be cut by the same percentage--- the only exception is military personnel accounts. "They will have to furlough virtually all DOD civilian employees for the maximum time allowed---22 working days," Harrison continued. "And they will have to cut back on service contractors by about 15 percent for the remainder of the year." Adams has a different opinion of DOD's ability to manage a sequester. "When push comes to shove, in a sequester, as for planning and budget- ing---the DOD [is] the best at the best practices," Adams said. "Federal union folks are correct that the DOD has the bulk of civil service employment, but [they're wrong in that] it's unusually pro- tected because it doesn't have only civil servants. "Almost every other federal agency can do only one thing when it comes to a sequester---and that's to furlough people, because most of their money is in their people," Adams continued. "But at DOD, fully a third of their money is in research and development and procurement con- tracting, and of course their uniformed personnel are untouched by sequester. "So they're better protected than the other agencies---in terms of how they can spread the pain," he concluded. "Other agencies just have to hit personnel---it's their only target." Of course, "spreading the pain"---if it means that all of the civil service and only some of the contractors are hit---comes as little comfort to federal employees. Adams did not offer an opinion about any departments other than DOD and the Department of Homeland Security. "The institution that has done the most public thinking about a possible sequester is DHS---but I don't think they are as good as the Pentagon at preparing, but they at least know what the impacts will be," Adams added. "For civil servants in general, if the sequester lasts for several months or some- thing similar, then there are going to be furloughs, and you over there, you're going to get your Friday off, and, oh, by the way you're not going to get paid," Adams told FEND, as to what sequester would mean on the ground to federal employees. "That's the truth." Asked how long the voting public will tolerate its government being turned off and on like a light switch, Adams said there was no clear answer. "It's kind of hard to guess at this point," Adams said. "I think the voters have dis- counted most of these people as ne'r- do-wells. I mean, the polls show it's like, 'Can't you guys get together and make this machinery work?' "The last two years in particular have shown the government is dysfunction- al with its budgets," Adams added. "I've looked at the polling on this---and at this point, the people are sure that Congress is a dysfunctional institution, but their own member of Congress is not. And that's it." likely scenarios "The most likely way to avoid sequestra- tion now is by delaying it---perhaps for the rest of 2013---with offsetting deficit reduc- tion that is half revenue and half spending cuts in future years, which is how they delayed it back in January," Harrison told FEND. "I think that kind of approach may be the best Congress can do right now." Questioned further however, Harrison added that he thought such an approach and compromise to avoid sequester is at this point "unlikely" to happen. As for DOD contractors, the sequester could mean several different fates, depending on the type of contract in play, Adams said. "For contractors, in many ways it's also tough love. For service contractors, if you're on an IDIQ [Indefinite Quantity, Indefinite Delivery] contract, you can forget about it for a while---you're just not going to get an order," Adams said. "If you're a personal services contractor or temporary employee at the DOD, the handwriting is already on the wall: You won't get renewed and there won't be new hires." Adams noted that one class of contrac- tor is safe---for now. "If you're a hardware contractor, you're working on already obli- gated dollars, and you're all right, for now," Adams told FEND. Contract awards will slow as well, Harrison said. "DOD will be able to pay all of its bills--- money that has already been obligated on contracts is not subject to sequestration, Harrison told FEND. "What is affected is money that DOD has not yet obligated, so the awarding of contracts will slow down substantially in the second half of the fiscal year. "I think both sides agree that sequestra- tion is not an ideal way to cut spending." Harrison summarized. "But I think a sig- nificant number in each party may view the alternatives to sequestration, things like higher taxes or cuts in Social Security or Medicare benefits, as even worse. So I don't think they want it to occur, but they may prefer it to the alternatives." 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.
Jan. 28, 2013
Feb. 11, 2013