Navy furloughs would hit 94 percent of workforce

April 8, 2013

The Navy is telling its civilian employees that it will try to keep the number of furlough days “as low as feasible” but unpaid days off still are expected and when they happen, more than nine-tenths of workers will be affected.

In talking points for leaders released Sunday, the Navy noted the recent announcement by the Defense Department reducing the number of expected furlough days department-wide from 22 to 14. That was due to enactment of a budget measure providing increased funding in parts of the defense budget paying for current operations.

Reuters/Reuters - Aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, in this December 20, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ryan J. Courtade/Handout/Files
Reuters/Reuters – Aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., in this December 20, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

The guidance says that although the bill lessened the impact of sequestration, “decisions need to be made on what we can keep, what can be rebalanced and which ship and aircraft maintenance can be deferred. The bill also granted us authority to reprogram our funds. We are examining the best application of these funds.”

“Despite [Department of the Navy] efforts to address current and projected budget reductions, fiscal challenges will likely require administrative furloughs of approximately 94 percent of the Navy’s more than 200,000 civilian employees,” it says.

Like the Army and the Air Force, the Navy would allow certain exceptions from furloughs, including civilian employees deployed to combat zones; foreign nationals; employees not paid from regular appropriations; presidential appointees not subject to government leave policies; those providing 24-hour inpatient and emergency care; and certain employees involved in intelligence and protection of life or property. Also exempt in the case of the Navy will be civilian mariners at sea.

“The civilian workforce is incredibly talented and dedicated—Navy leadership recognizes the impact of the furloughs on the civilian workforce and their families,” the Navy talking points say. “Employee furloughs create significant financial hardship for men and women dedicated to public service—more than 50 percent of whom are veterans—and adversely impact the Navy’s ability to retain a skilled and talented workforce.”

In reducing the projected number of days, DoD also said it expects its furloughs to begin in late June rather than in late April as originally planned.

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Lisa Rein | April 8, 2013