The Environmental Protection Agency has become the latest agency to cut back on its projected furlough days, cutting three days to bring the total to just under seven.

Acting administrator Bob Perciasepe announced the reduction in a memo to employees Wednesday afternoon, saying that since initially announcing furlough plans, “we have worked hard to carefully and comprehensively review our resources and our priorities again, with a focus on minimizing furloughs.”

People walk past the EPA building on May 24, the first day of furloughs for the agency. (Mark Wilson/Getty). People walk past the EPA building on May 24, the first day of furloughs for the agency. (Mark Wilson/Getty).

EPA designed its furloughs in two separate phases. Employees were ordered to take the equivalent of four days off in April through June, with one of those days being May 24 when EPA — along with three other agencies — closed virtually all operations..

EPA said from the outset that it would reassess how much unpaid time off would be needed in the second phase through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. “Now that we have an operating plan in place, I can announce with certainty that we will not need to implement as many employee furlough hours during Phase Two as we initially feared,” the memo says.

While EPA most recently had projected that its 17,000 employees would have to take 47 hours during the second phase, that number has been reduced to 23 hours and will start June 16. That time will include two more closing days, on July 5 and Aug. 30, meaning that employees will have to schedule seven hours in addition.

“I certainly understand that, even at the reduced level, these furloughs will continue to impact you and your families, and I assure you that our employees’ well being has remained top of mind for the entire leadership team – and certainly for me,” Perciasepe wrote in the memo.

He said that non-payroll cuts account for almost 80 percent of the savings needed due to sequestration, and that “there are certain items we simply cannot cut any further, from mission-critical travel and necessary new hires, even at reduced replacement rates, to workforce training and new internal management tools.”

Several other agencies recently have reduced their numbers of projected furlough days or have concluded that they won’t need to impose any.