Sequestration Reductions Relief for FY13 but Not FY14

Last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released a memorandum announcing a reduction in furlough days for Department of Defense (DoD) employees from 11 days to 6 days. This means for most of the 650,000 civilian DoD employees furloughs will be over by August 17, 2013.

Secretary Hagel noted that Congress approved programming requests which give DoD the flexibility to move funds from acquisitions accounts to day-to-day operations. He also noted the military Services have been aggressive in identifying ways to hold down costs and shifting savings to meet the highest priorities.

The announcement means that Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) will not have to close for five days at the start of the 2013-2104 school year, as had been previously announced. DoDEA personnel on ten-month contracts (primarily teachers and support staff) are now exempt from furloughs. DoDEA employees on 11 or 12 month contracts are subject to the six furlough days, similar to other DoD employees.

Military commissaries worldwide will return to normal operating schedules the week of August 18 – 24. The announcement came from the Defense Commissary Agency’s (DeCA) Director and CEO Joseph Jeu in the wake of the Defense Department’s decision to reduce furlough days for its civilian workforce.

While this is positive news for DoD civilian employees, military children, and commissary patrons, the Defense Department still faces enormous challenges for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14), beginning on October 1, 2013. Secretary Hagel warns of the consequences of sequestration in his message summarized below:

With the end of the fiscal year next month, managers across the DoD are making final decisions necessary to ensure we make the $37 billion spending cuts mandated by sequestration, while also doing everything possible to limit damage to military readiness and our workforce. We are joined in this regard by managers in non-defense agencies who are also working to accommodate sequestration cuts while minimizing mission damage.

This has been one of the most volatile and uncertain budget cycles the Department of Defense has ever experienced. Our fiscal planning has been conducted under a cloud of uncertainty with the imposition of sequestration and changing rules as Congress made adjustments to our spending authorities.

As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges. If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DoD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on October 1. This represents 40 percent more than this year's sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year . . .

The National Military Family Association is deeply concerned about both the short-term and long-term impacts of sequestration on military families. We remain a nation at war and the support for military families is eroding. We are committed to #EndSequestration.


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