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GAO considers layoffs in the face of likely budget cuts

Sep. 20, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The Senate Appropriations Committee's legislative branch appropriations bill would provide $504.5 million in funding for GAO - a 7.6 percent cut from this year.
The Senate Appropriations Committee's legislative branch appropriations bill would provide $504.5 million in funding for GAO - a 7.6 percent cut from this year. (Staff file photo)

The Government Accountability Office told its employees' union Sept. 16 that it is considering layoffs to cope with anticipated budget cuts in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The announcement came a day after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its legislative branch appropriations bill, which would provide $504.5 million in funding for GAO a 7.6 percent cut from this year. The House in July approved an appropriations bill with $511.3 million in GAO funding, which would represent a 6.4 percent cut.

In a statement to Federal Times, GAO said it has not made any final decisions on reductions-in-force.

"We are looking at all options," GAO spokesman Chuck Young said. "We just recently received the Senate mark. These are major cuts. We're reviewing all elements of the budget and all aspects of our operation headquarters, field, mission, mission support. We'll be assessing all of the options under consideration with an expectation that we need to make decisions early in the fiscal year to gain the economic benefits that we need."

Ron La Due Lake, president of the GAO Employees Organization, said the union began talking to GAO Monday to try to find other ways to deal with budget cuts, without or with fewer layoffs. He said GAO has not told the union how many positions may need to be removed to help it deal with a possible 7.6 percent cut, or when they might take place. GAO is required to give the union 30 days notice before issuing any RIF notices. A 7.6 percent cut is far from certain, since it's only been approved by a committee in one chamber of Congress.

"Our understanding is it's still early in any thinking process," La Due Lake said.

GAO has already approved at least 42 buyouts and at least three early retirements to help it prepare for the expected 2012 budget cuts.

The agency has also been studying since July whether to make changes to its network of field offices. La Due Lake said the possible RIFs stemming from budget cuts are not related to that field office study, which is not yet completed. A GAO document on the study said the agency may close field offices and lay off employees as part of its restructuring.

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