Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued a department-wide memorandum Dec. 20 that reiterated prior statements on the mechanics of defense cuts while reassuring civilian employees that the department would operate as normal to start the year.
The memo, sent with the subject line “Implications of Ongoing Fiscal Cliff Negotiations,” noted that military personnel were set to be exempted from the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, and that the potential impact is on total year funding, not on the current flow of dollars. The result is that there wouldn’t be a need to immediately furlough civilian employees, who are not exempted, although Panetta noted that furloughs may be necessary later in the year.
“I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2, 2013,” Panetta wrote. “This means we will not be executing any immediate civilian personnel actions, such as furloughs, on that date. Should we have to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period of time, we may have to consider furloughs or other actions in the future.”
Panetta said that any employees who might be furloughed would receive “the requisite advance notice” if a furlough were to occur, and that any scheduled personnel actions would be immediately cancelled if the agency’s funding is restored.
Panetta also included words of encouragement for the civilian workforce.
“Our civilian employees should keep in mind that the Administration remains focused on working with Congress to reach agreement on a balanced deficit reduction plan that avoids such cuts,” he wrote.
“Sequestration was never intended to be implemented, and there is no reason why both sides should not be able to come together and prevent this scenario.”