Budget uncertainty and Natick
February 21, 2013
NATICK, Mass. -- In the face of current budgetary uncertainties, the Department of Defense informed Congress on Feb. 20 of its intention to administratively furlough DoD civilian employees for 22 days during Fiscal Year 2013 if no resolution is found.
Across-the-board reductions, also known as "sequestration," could take effect March 1, triggering $1.2 trillion in government spending cuts over 10 years. Half of that amount would come from DoD, including $46 billion this year. Furloughs would be among the cost-cutting measures enacted and could trim as much as $5 billion of the $46 billion in reductions necessary in DoD during the remainder of the fiscal year.
Civilian employees, including those at Natick Soldier Systems Center, would be furloughed on average for one day per week over 22 weeks, resulting in a 20-percent loss of pay during that period. The earliest furloughs would begin in late April after affected employees receive 30 days' notice.
Most employee benefits would continue during furloughs, although accrual of annual and sick leave and within-grade increases could be affected. For more information, personnel should read the Office of Personnel Management's "Guidance for Administrative Furloughs" at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/guidance-for-administrative-furloughs.pdf.
"Your NSSC senior leaders are working together and with their individual commands to plan for furloughs that will minimize negative impacts on our ability to execute the mission and be the least disruptive to our workforce," said Dr. Jack Obusek, NSSC senior manager and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center director.
NSSC currently has 1,644 civilian personnel. Furloughs are expected to result in nearly $10 million in savings at Natick.
As part of a DoD-wide hiring freeze, Natick has put 55 hiring actions on hold. Other personnel actions being considered include the release of temporary employees and the non-renewal of term employees. Natick has 57 temporary and 71 term employees.
Apart from the personnel actions, NSSC is also reducing base operations funding by 30 percent, suspending overtime, placing severe restrictions on official travel, curtailing training and attendance at professional technical meetings, reducing purchase of supplies, suspending real property restoration and modernization work, and terminating site maintenance, repair and cleaning contracts.
"In the event of sequestration, we will do everything we can to be able to continue to perform our core mission of providing for the security of the United States," Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta wrote in a memo to DoD employees, "but there is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force."