Just a week and a half before deep sequestration defense cuts are set to go into effect without a fiscal cliff deal, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is explaining potential ramifications to Pentagon employees.
Panetta assures workers in today’s memo that President Obama said over the summer he would “exercise his legal authority to exempt military personnel funding from sequestration.”
“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.”
Nevertheless, though, Panetta said it’s necessary to “clarify the potential implications.”
“I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2, 2013, should sequestration occur,” he said, citing a budgetary reduction through the remainder of the fiscal year ending in September. “This means that 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 other cost-cutting measures would also be considered within the department.
“If such action proves to be necessary, we would provide affected employees the requisite advance notice before a furlough or other personnel action would occur,” he continued. “We would also immediately cancel any scheduled personnel actions should a deficit reduction agreement be reached that restores our agency funding.”
Panetta wrapped up by thanking Pentagon employees “during this holiday season” for their hard work and dedication.
This guidance doesn’t address the devastating job losses that would be seen at defense contractors, who were encouraged by the administration to not issue 60-day WARN Act notices before the election.