I also just received an anonymous email that said, "Why aren't there any discussions about the elephant in room at DoD? As a DoD employee, many I know are in a dither about the impending furlough."
So it seems that things may be reaching a boiling point in your agencies and I wanted to give you a forum to talk about it with each other:
How / Is your agency preparing for it?
Are they telling you?
As always, if you wish to respond anonymously, please send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Sequestration."
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For some reason the the elected folks in Washington (Senators, Representatives, President) seem to think that once they make a decision, the work is all done, the consequences are taken care of with no effort and no time at all by the employees who do the real work. That's why they continually fail to pass a budget, but instead pass short-term CRs, with nary a thought to the difficulty, pain, and inefficiency that results from them not doing their job.
I believe that the offical guidance was not to plan for the sequester ... because it would look bad politically, and because it would lessen the pressure to find a way around the sequester ... betting that the Congress & the Executive would somehow break with their much demostrated past history of failure to solve the big money problems and instead come up with a solution.
As Pogo said "We have met the enemy ... and he is us" RIP Walt Kelly
I am sufficiently boiled. Stick a fork in me, I am done.
I don't know which is worse, not knowing or knowing. AF, Navy, Army have spelled out how the sequestration and furloughs will be implemented. In our area, we have heard "nothing". Of course the "hiring freeze" has returned. We still have not recovered from the first one in 2011 2012. If you didn't get hired on (the process is AGONY from start to finish and takes forever) before January of this year...bye bye, your billet you wanted to fill for the last 2 yrs is now "suspended". Will the folks who applied for the frozen positions have to re apply and go through the AGONIZING looonnnnggg process again? Will the hiring officials have to announce and submit the job again? Stupidity reigns supreme. If a person applied for a job and it closed BEFORE this crap started, I believe the hire should go through. Oh, by the way, there isn't any notification process for those who "may be" waiting by the phone. They are ignored.
Our tenant command has decided on Tuesdays and Thursdays for furlough days, should they come about. Are you kidding me? What about Monday's and Friday's...or does does that make too much sense? I say, shut all of DoD down except for the uniformed services one day a week (buildings too). They will have to do without us for one day a week until October. Then I want to "see" an accounting of how much money was saved in putting rabid fear in the hearts of many civilian workers who don't live in DC in an over priced townhouse and drive a Mercedes. Hiring freezes should apply to GS12's and up. The worker bees have been strapped for over 2 yrs. with the first freeze.
Find attached "letter" from Department of Commerce indicating impact on the Dept.
"Sequestration would have both short-term and long-term impacts on the Department's ability to deliver on critical parts of our mission and would have a sizable economic cost for the Nation. All bureaus would see impacts to their missions as they implement hiring freezes, curtail or cancel training, and halt critical program investments needed to strengthen performance and improve efficient use of taxpayer dollars. All of these would have a harmful impact on our Department's ability to deliver services to America's businesses and keep our economy moving forward on the path of recovery. The Department is working hard to provide services in a cost efficient and service-positive manner. "
Thank you for sharing that example, Henry.
Rather contrarian report From the Center for International Policy (a Washington think tank)
Over the past two years, Pentagon contractors have financed a series of studies that have made exaggerated claims about the economic impacts of reductions in Pentagon spending. This report refutes a number of the key findings of those industry-backed reports, which have been extensively promoted in an effort to influence politicians and the media in Washington and around the country. Specifically, this analysis looks at the impacts of Pentagon contracting for weapons, supplies and services.
The hysteria arising over sequestration is becoming comical. We are talking about $85 Billion in cuts against $3.5 Trillion in spending. About the same as a family making $35,000 per year needing to cut $850 from the family budget because payroll taxes went up. Oh wait, taxes were just raised and by about $850 per family. So those of us in the federal government are now being asked to make the same level of belt tightening required in January of those who pay our salaries. You would think the world was coming to an end.
Despite the manufactured fabrications, neither Chinese military nor radical Islamists will overrun our shores. Few if any federal employees will lose jobs and the number furloughed will be much smaller than projected when senior executives realize Congress is not buying their act. Nor will ugly winged creatures fly out of the sun and roast us all.
The nation will wake up the morning after sequester and only the most ardent news junkies will even realize it took place. The currently unparrelled economic growth in the D.C. metro area will pause temporarily, readjust and move on.
State and local governments have been dealing with similar challanges for five years. Those which have made fiscal responsibility a priority are doing just fine. Those which have not are paying the consequences. The question is: "In dealing with sequestration; should the federal government emulate Indiana or Illinois?"
...but Federal government employees are hit twice then - as citizens AND as employees. Of course, it's not comical for people who face the potential of losing their job either, especially people who have given their entire career to public service and are now on the chopping block for an unceremonious exit.
Not sure state and local folks would say they are doing just fine. I talked to the family member of a supervisory state trooper last night who is down 8 officers and can't hire due to budget freezes. That's added stress on him and his family...and makes them less effective in performing their job of public safety and law enforcement - which affects everyone.
We are still talking about very small cuts against very large outlays.
There is absolutely NO reason any federal employee providing value to the nation inexcess of their compensation should lose their job. Positions no longer truly needed to support government services can be eliminated through attrition rather than RIFs even under sequestration. The current scare tactics designed to insinuate otherwise are indeed cruel and not comical but we would be better served by exposing these tactics than amplifying them.
For state and local governments; the qualifier "which have made fiscal responsibility a priority" is critical. Indiana, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Wisconsin Pennsylvaniaetc made some hard choices but have been able to steer their state governments through hard times with minimal impact. California, New York, and Illinois avoided fiscal responsibility early on and are now engaged in very painful catchup efforts which may not succeed.
I work in County government ... we began addressing the economic issues years ago when the housing market tanked (and our revenues decreased). The first year we had to implement furloughs, a hiring freeze with all exceptions approved by a special committee, and a purchasing oversight committee that monitored/approved purchases that exceeded a particular threshold. Also deferred/delayed/reduced were some non-essential programs (land preservation purchases, local grants, etc). Yes, it made getting things done more challenging, and yes we have reduced the workforce over the past 4 years or so. The result -- we have a AAA bond rating for the second year in a row, and we did get a small raise this year (it just about covered the 2% that came back into the federal payroll tax).
Also, we are required to balance the operating budget every year, though we can borrow for Capital if approved by legislation. However, unlike the federal government we don't just ignore debt or print more cash.
It is not like it is a surprise that the federal government spends more than it has. This situation did not just sneak up on the President & the Senate/House ... they are just playing a game of political "chicken" with it. The bottom line is that the federal employees & the taxpayers will bear the brunt of the negative impacts & the elected officials will move on to some other issues and continue with their irresponsible behavior.
You don't need to be a budget expert to see what's going to happen. The easiest cuts will be made first. No maintenance, travel or training. Projects will be slowed-down and then cancelled. Unspent pots of money will be seized. Contracts won't be renewed and contractors will be laid off. The cuts won't be guided by an agency's mission but by what's easiest to get the job done.