IRS postpones August furlough day

The Internal Revenue Service has postponed its Aug. 30 furlough day, marking the agency’s second cancellation of mandatory time off work it had scheduled for this summer.

Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel indicated in a memo to employees Wednesday that “substantial progress in trimming costs” has potentially allowed the agency to reduce the amount of unpaid leave necessary to meet its spending-cut targets under the government-wide austerity measure known as the sequester. The agency had initially planned for five furlough days.

(Charles Dharapak/AP) - Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel. Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Werfel added that early next month, budget planners will evaluate  whether the IRS still needs to resort to unpaid leave in September.

Last month, the IRS canceled one of its furlough days slated for July 22.

The National Treasury Employees Union expressed disappointment that the agency merely postponed instead of cancelling its Aug. 30 date for unpaid leave.

“It has been and continues to be NTEU’s position that all remaining IRS furlough days should be cancelled,” said the group’s president, Colleen M. Kelley, in a statement Wednesday. “NTEU will continue to work with the IRS to achieve that end.”

Unlike some other agencies requiring workers to take unpaid leave on staggered dates under the so-called sequester, the IRS is forcing all of its employees to take the same days off work — essentially closing the agency down on those days.

The IRS has paired some of its furlough days with federal holidays, creating four-day weekends for affected workers around Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day — although the latter will no longer apply with the Aug. 30 date cancelled.

Below is the text from Werfel’s memo to employees:

Today, I want to give you an important update as we continue to address our budget situation. With your help, we have made substantial progress in cutting costs. I greatly appreciate everyone’s help in this critical effort. Our progress is such that we have decided to postpone the furlough day scheduled for Aug. 30. We still have more work to do on the budget and cost-savings, so we will reevaluate in early September and make a final determination as to whether we will need another furlough day in September. I encourage everyone to remain focused on the important work you are doing to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars so we can maintain the progress we have seen and avoid the lost productivity that occurs with any furlough day.

In the meantime, please note that all IRS offices will now be open on Aug. 30. We wanted to let you know as soon as possible so you have enough advance notice to make or adjust plans leading up to the Labor Day weekend. We know many employees may have conflicts that day, so liberal leave will be available.

I will continue to keep you informed as the budget situation continues to develop. Thank you for your patience and continued support.

— Danny Werfel

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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