U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told Congress he intends to furlough civilian employees if sequestration goes into effect.
Panetta issued a memo to Defense Department employees Wednesday, pledging to work with employee unions and give employees at least 30 days of notice before furloughing them. He said he would continue to work with Congress in hopes of avoiding sequestration’s budget cuts, which are scheduled to take effect March 1.
A Defense official said Tuesday that the department plans to furlough nearly 800,000 civilian employees starting in April. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told lawmakers last week that employees will likely be furloughed for one day per week for up to 22 weeks, through the end of the fiscal year in September.
The furloughs would cut DoD costs by about $5 billion out of the $46 billion total it will have to cut under sequestration. Military personnel would be exempt.
The Pentagon has scheduled a press briefing for Wednesday afternoon to detail its furlough plans.