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Federal Employees News Digest : March 11, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org What's Inside44 MARCH 11, 2013 • VOL. 62, NO. 32 Labor groups work to moderate impact of cuts, furloughs Federal employees woke up about a week ago to the knowledge that a nearly two-year threat of blanket budget cuts was now reality---and their pay was about to be hit by a sequester, and hard. "It's easy to make federal employees the scapegoat for the government's issue with debt," Cory Bythrow, communications director for the National Federation of Federal Employees, told FEND in regard to the sequester. "This is something that members of Congress---and particularly Republicans in the House---have been trying to do for years. The fact of the matter is, no matter how much they cut federal employees' pay, we are no better off for it." But now that the sequester is happen- ing, just how hard federal pay will get hit is the question. In theory, with about six months left in fiscal 2013, each agency would need to make cuts approaching 20 percent to make up the 8.2 percent cuts to nondefense discretionary spending, for example, that is mandated for the full year. The share of the cuts aimed at person- nel, then, translates to about one fur- lough day per week through the end of August---for a total of 22 days. Fewer furlough days at some agencies On the ground, however, the formula isn't always that simple. At some agen- cies, management was long preparing for the cuts, enabling them to implement fewer furlough days. And at most agen- cies, labor is pushing back and attempt- ing to steer cuts into other areas---includ- ing contracting. At Customs and Border Protection, for example, the sequester likely will not lead to a 20 percent furlough for the remainder of the fiscal year, but rather something more like 10 percent. "Some federal agencies have been get- ting ready for this," National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley told FEND. "If the agencies have been cutting spending in anticipation of this problem, then they are in a somewhat better situation. So there's less impact on the salary line, on employees." "[At Customs and Border Protection] they will see decreases in pay of 10 per- cent for the rest of the year," Kelley said. "That is what places like CBP are talking about---they're talking about 14 unpaid furlough days." "At the IRS for example, they have not been backfilling jobs for almost two years," Kelley told FEND, citing another agency which has been cut- ting for an extended period---and one that announced no furloughs will occur through tax season. "We have 5,000 fewer employees at IRS than a year ago, and almost 10,000 fewer than about two years ago. That agency has not been hiring--- and like I said, agencies that have not Next Up: Government shutdown Most of the uproar over sequestration is coming from politi- cians, lobbyists, the news media and edi- torial columnists. Many say this is a terrible mistake that could have and should have been avoided. Some high officials, like new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, warn our defense establishment will be hobbled, if not crippled, for decades. Really? Others say our borders are no longer secure. And that the worst is yet to come. Democrats are counting on the media and the general public to decide (if they haven't already) that this is fault of right-leaning Republicans in Congress. That they did nothing to stop it and are enjoying seeing Uncle Sam twist in the breeze. A CBS News poll last week said 38 percent of us blame the Republicans and 33 per- cent blame the Democrats. I don't recall being asked, but, well ... Republicans are hoping that the public (they have little hope with the INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • GOP CR preserves cuts 4 • In Brief 4 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
March 4, 2013
March 18, 2013