Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale said Friday that roughly half of DoD employees face furloughs if Congress fails to reach a spending agreement. (Thomas Brown/Staff)
Some 400,000 Defense Department employees — roughly half the total — face furloughs if Congress fails to reach a spending agreement by early next week, DoD Comptroller Robert Hale said Friday.
In addition, Hale said the Pentagon is preparing for reductions-in-force next year based on $487 billion in long-term spending reductions set in motion two years ago, He declined to say how many employees could be affected.
With morale already low, “I am very concerned about the effect this [a partial shutdown] is going to have on our civilian workforce,” Hale said at a news briefing.
If a partial shutdown occurs, furloughs would begin Tuesday, the first day of the new fiscal year. Lawmakers remained deadlocked Friday on the terms of a continuing resolution to keep DoD and other agencies in business.
DoD employees who would be “excepted” — that is, allowed to keep working — include emergency responders and others who ensure the safety of DoD property and personnel; criminal investigators; and workers at military depots and other “working capital fund” operations not funded by normal appropriations, according to an updated Pentagon contingency plan released Friday.
Military personnel would stay on the job and be paid, though their paychecks may experience some delay, as would be true for excepted civilian employees, depending how long the shutdown lasts. Furloughed workers would not receive back pay unless lawmakers explicitly authorize it, Hale said.
While the shutdown lasts, stateside commissaries will close, employees on non-exempt business trips will have to come home and death benefits will not be paid to survivors of troops killed after the beginning of the fiscal year.
Even if lawmakers reach a deal to keep agencies operating, it will likely be at the current post-sequester funding levels.