Congress of the United States

The Honorable Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Waslli.ng10n.,DC 20301-1000

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As you proceed with your strategic review of the Department’s priorities, we would request that you also turn your attention to one ofthe Departm ent’s most strategic assets: its civilian personnel. Specifically, we ask that you review sequestration-related actions with respect to civilian personnel, particularly the widespread use of furloughs, the firing of temporary and terni employees, andthe freeze on new hires.

These actions currently being implemented were announced in the January 10 guidance issued by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, long before the Department knew the speciñc funding levels that would be avaiìable to it for the entirety of  year 2013. HR. 933, the Consolidated and Continuing Appropnations Act of 2013, increases funding to the Department’s
Operation and Maintenance accounts from FYlZ to  by an amount that exceeds the anticipated savings from the actions imposed in the january 10 guidance.

lt is increasingly clear that these actions are threatening to undermine mission performance and, as a result, mission readiness. We understand that your office is currently reviewing
installations’ and components’ petitions for relief, either because implementation Will increase costs _ e. g., the Workforce will have to work overtime to Complete Work by contractual
deadlines _ or is not necessary, eg., because an installation has Workload already funded through a Working Capital Fund. However, to date we have been told only that all civilian
furloughs are being applied in the same manner across the Department, regardless of Whether a service component or defense agency has the resources to buy back the furlough days.

Additionaiiy, the manner in which the Department is imposing furloughs exacts punishing reductions on components and agencies that downsized their civilian staffs in fiscal years 2009 and ’2,010 in compliance with prior Defense guidance, while appearing to reward departments and agencies that did not shed workforce. In essence, under the current furlough guidance, the more streamlined, efficient organizations are footing the bi1] for those that are still over strength.

As sequestration continues, the Department ìnevitabìy will also have to reduce spending on service contracts. However1 even though new civilian hiring is ait but stopped, the Same
constraint might not be imposed on new contracts. Even though temporary and term employees are being systematieaìly ñred, noi all service contracts will ‘ne terminated. Even though îhe vast majority of civilian empìoyees are being subjected to furloughs which could result in a 20% reduction in income, not all service contracts will be reduced in scope by one-Íìfth.

We are not taking the position that civilian personnel should not bear sacriÍîces because of sequestration. Rather, we strongly urge the Department to make merit-based versus indiscriminate decisions on furloughs and ñring temporary and ierm employees and thaï managers be allowed the discretion lo make offsetting cuts to comply with sequestration.

 

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