A huge problem with the “trigger” is that it appears to be an ATB. ATB’s–especially as this one seems to be written–leave very little if any flexibility for an agency to manage reductions in a smart manner; an ATB at double or near double digit levels is basically like using a meat cleaver to perform surgery. As I understand the law; flexibility was built in for DoD to move money around to protect military personnel accounts; but no flexibility was built in for any agency to shuffle their cuts (ie, cut more from one account and less from another but come to the same overall total) around in order to protect civilian personnel accounts; a grave oversight on the law’s part–or for that matter, to shuffle the exact distribution of their cuts to protect critical and mission-essential non-personnel accounts; another grave oversight on the law’s part.
Sure, 9 percent is bad. Very bad. But what’s worst of all by a factor of a thousand is that it’s a 9 percent across the board. If there was instead more agency discretion in where to take the cuts (more from one account, less from another, etc; within an agency), things might be a heck of a lot less catastrophic.