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Customs, Border Patrol will see furloughs

Feb. 21, 2013 - 11:15AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
NTEU said that Customs and Border Protection will issue furlough notices in mid-March.
NTEU said that Customs and Border Protection will issue furlough notices in mid-March. (Jesus Alcazar / AFP via Getty Images)

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Customs and Border Protection is planning to furlough all 60,000 employees for up to 14 days if sequestration goes into effect, the National Treasury Employees Union said Wednesday.

CBP told NTEU that the furloughs will be necessary to help it cut $754 million from its budget between March 1 — when sequestration is scheduled to begin — and Sept. 30, when the current fiscal year ends. NTEU said that CBP will issue furlough notices in mid-March.

NTEU said CBP is also planning to slash travel, training and overtime and freeze all hiring. CBP will have fewer law enforcement personnel at the border, NTEU said, which will greatly increase wait times at border crossings, and the reduced travel and slowed commercial traffic will substantially cut revenue collected.

NTEU National President Colleen Kelley urged Congress to avert sequestration.

“These cuts will have devastating impacts on CBP’s dual missions of securing our borders and facilitating trade and travel,” Kelley said. “With the great consequences so clear to so many people, organizations and vital government programs, it is hard to believe Congress will choose to pursue this wrong-headed course.”

CBP told NTEU in a letter Tuesday that furloughs will be a last resort, and said it will try to spread furlough days throughout the rest of the fiscal year. Kelley said that would cost CBP officers more than two days of pay each month for the rest of the year.

CBP also said it will halt the hiring of new frontline officers beginning in April, and it will continue offering basic training for all new officers hired through the end of March. But CBP said all other training will be cancelled for the rest of the year — except for canine, special operations, and intermediate force and firearms training — which it expects will save $25 million.

CBP has also cancelled all recruitment, retention and relocation incentive payments as of December 2012.

Overtime in CBP’s Office of Field Operations will be cut by $37.5 million.

And CBP outlined several maintenance and repair contracts that might be reduced. For example, the Integrated Fixed Tower procurements — a series of fixed sensor towers along the border meant to detect illegal crossings — may be delayed. Maintenance on the Remote Video Surveillance System program of border cameras could also be reduced, saving $15 million.

CBP will cut information technology contract support staff to save $19 million.

CBP is also planning to cut its Air and Marine Interdiction operations and maintenance to save costs. Flight hours for the P-3 patrol aircraft would be cut by 1,900 hours. All other aircraft flight hours would be cut by 18,800 hours.

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