Have You Reached the Sequestration Boiling Point? How’s Your Agency Preparing?

Home Forums Leadership and Management Have You Reached the Sequestration Boiling Point? How’s Your Agency Preparing?

This topic contains 23 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Julie Chase Julie Chase 1 year, 9 months ago.

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  • #176316

    Someone just shared an email that they received from their agency with the title “Preparations for a Potential Sequestration on March 1.”

    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:


    Are you becoming more and more concerned that sequestration is inevitable?

    How / Is your agency preparing for it?

    Are they telling you?

    As always, if you wish to respond anonymously, please send your response to [email protected] with the subject line “Sequestration.”

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  • #176364
    Profile photo of Julie Chase
    Julie Chase
    Participant

    From what I understand, the AF, Army and Navy have plans in place and employees have been notified of possible furlough days. Uncle Sams Misguided Children, however have not heard a word. I just wish they would go ahead and tell us which days (hoping for Monday or Friday because it makes sense) and be done with it. I would go a step further and just state, shut the buildings down too along with the hangers, dry docks and vehicle fleets in DoD. In reading several gov news websites, I get the feeling people have reached their boiling point and would like DoD to get off the pot or P. Added to that, the hiring freeze is “back on”. Retirement filings hit a high in January. So people are leaving. No word (rumors…if ya hear one, start one, lol) on buyouts. I guess people aren’t going for the 25K that was given out back in the early 90’s….with inflation and all, people with less than 5 yrs are staying put. Thank you Andrew for painting up the elephant so others in gov can see everything isn’t coming up roses. Oh, and no one dares to mention TAD, training or conferences without getting a hairy eyeball look. Conferences are now way in the back of the stove and the burner is off.

  • #176362
    Profile photo of GovLoop
    GovLoop
    Keymaster

    I’ve heard DHS has plans in place & I’m guessing most agencies do.

  • #176360

    Yep. Would love to know if those memos have any specifics or just super general.

  • #176358
    Profile photo of John Evans
    John Evans
    Participant

    It’s looking more and more likely that it will happen. My agency hasn’t said much-they finally sent a generic e-mail at 430PM today. All it said was that they are trying to minimize the impact on core missions.We’re already under a 2-year old hiring freeze, and additional responsibilities keep getting piled on us. With fewer and fewer people to do more and more work, the impact of sequestration will be devastating. NTEU has provided much more timely and detailed updates, as usual.

  • #176356
    Profile photo of Bill Ryan
    Bill Ryan
    Participant

    Being in Local Gov, we have been dealing with this for 4-5 years. With a hiring freeze and furloughs its difficult. I feel for you Federal folks. This is a big challenge. The one tip I can offer, is to prioritize what you need to do…the rest will just take a little longer to do…Being in IT, we have had to accomplish doing more with less for years. Use Technology and work smarter….you can adapt and overcome!

  • #176354

    Good encouragement, Bill. Thank you.

  • #176352

    Can you share more from NTEU? Seems like a model for others to follow….

  • #176350
    Profile photo of Steven Stein
    Steven Stein
    Participant

    There have been DoD level memos published in early January giving high level plans for implementing sequestration. While the memo does not give specific details for the sequestration, it does provide all branches with direction on where to prioritize cuts. There have also been associated service level and associated unit memos published which give more details. If you cannot find them, try to locate your base’s main publication website. If not there, contact the Exec for the base. There should be some place they are stored. I hope this helps.

  • #176348
    Profile photo of Steven Stein
    Steven Stein
    Participant

    What I find curious about the cuts (and saving initiatives in general) is they always focus on short term benefit without any real strategy for long term savings. An example instituting the hiring freeze. There is a short term benefit in saving some money, but hurts in the long run since folks need to pick up extra work and cannot focus on how to do their job better or make the agency better. This loses money in the long run. If the larger DoD was really focused on saving money it woulf fundamentally revamp how it conducts it business rather than enforcing short term cuts.

  • #176346
    Profile photo of Scott Kearby
    Scott Kearby
    Participant

    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

  • #176344

    Are the areas of priority public knowledge, Steven? I have not been following that closely. Curious to get some sense of what might be prioritized in other agencies as well.

  • #176342

    I am sufficiently boiled. Stick a fork in me, I am done.

  • #176340
    Profile photo of Steven Stein
    Steven Stein
    Participant

    I cannot say if the memos are public knowledge, but I do not remember seeing any markings on the memo saying otherwise. From what I can remember (I unfortunately do not have the memo with me now), the DoD is restricting travel, instituting a hiring freeze, planning for civilian furloughs, and doing what we can to slow burn rates on acquisition programs. Other than that, there have not been a lot of specifics released, which adds to the frustration on my part. But, to be fair, there is not a lot of specifics the DoD level can levy. So it is up to the units to find places to save money if the sequestration hits.

  • #176338

    I think this is the core detail:

    restricting travel, instituting a hiring freeze, planning for civilian furloughs, and doing what we can to slow burn rates on acquisition programs.”

    … and suspect that’s pretty common among sequestration planning.

  • #176336
    Profile photo of Julie Chase
    Julie Chase
    Participant

    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.

  • #176333
    Profile photo of Henry Brown
    Henry Brown
    Participant

    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.

  • #176330
    Profile photo of Henry Brown
    Henry Brown
    Participant

    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.

    Download Report:

  • #176328
    Profile photo of Peter Sperry
    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    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?”

  • #176326

    Thank you for sharing that example, Henry.

  • #176324

    …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.

  • #176322
    Profile photo of Peter Sperry
    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    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.

  • #176320
    Profile photo of Scott Kearby
    Scott Kearby
    Participant

    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.

  • #176318
    Profile photo of Joe Flood
    Joe Flood
    Participant

    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.

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