The Department of Defense has begun delivering furlough notices to civilian employees, setting in motion a chain of actions that will result in hundreds of thousands of Defense workers losing time on their jobs.
Some 750,000 Defense employees face up to 11 days of furlough beginning July 8 owing to automatic budget cuts mandated by sequestration. Although most other federal departments have managed to avoid furloughs, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced May 14 that the Pentagon has concluded that it cannot make the necessary cuts without them.
The distribution of the notices of proposed furloughs, which began Tuesday, is scheduled to be completed by June 5.
“To the greatest extent possible, employees will be notified of a furlough in writing, hand-delivered to the employee by the immediate supervisor,” said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Department of Defense spokeswoman.
Hull-Ryde added that in some cases, notifications will be sent via certified mailed to the employee’s home. “E-mail is also an option, if necessary,” she said.
Employees have seven calendar days to appeal the decision, and will receive formal responses no later than July 5, according to the Defense Department.
Once they begin, most civilian workers will face one day of furlough per week. The 20 percent cut in pay over the 11-week period will cause undue hardship for many defense workers, according to union representatives.
“I have made this decision very reluctantly, because I know that the furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DoD operations,” Hagel said in announcing the furloughs. “I recognize the significant hardship this places on you and your families.”
The Pentagon estimates that the furloughs will save the department $1.8 billion. The 11 days are down from the 14 that the Pentagon had warned would be needed, and only half of the 22 days that were originally forecast.
Hagel said the Pentagon will consider reducing the number of days further should the department’s financial picture improve.