Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is grappling with $46 billion in sequester-related cuts for fiscal 2013. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
Defense Department civilian employees will be furloughed 14 days through September, down from 22 days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday.
The move follows passage of a spending bill that gives the Pentagon more flexibility in how it handles across-the-board budget cuts. Obama signed the bill Tuesday.
“It’s good news from where we were two weeks ago,” Hagel said at a Pentagon news briefing
The department is grappling with $41 billion in sequester-related cuts for fiscal 2013, which ends in September. While the newly signed spending legislation locked in those cuts, it also reallocated more than $10 billion to the department’s operations and maintenance account that covers civilian salaries. Last week, the Pentagon opted to delay sending required 30-day furlough notices to study the measure’s effects.
One union is urging Hagel to cancel furloughs altogether. The extra O&M funding is “more than enough to put all DoD workers back to work full-time where they belong,” Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, said in a Wednesday letter to Hagel posted on the union’s website.