The Pentagon is preparing for a government shutdown if a fiscal compromise is not reached by the Oct. 1 deadline, releasing a memo listing the steps it will take if the shutdown occurs. "While military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed," Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter wrote in the memo distributed to Defense employees.
Pentagon furloughs will take their hardest toll on the workforces of Virginia, California and Texas, and the private sector will feel the effects as personal spending slows, one economist said. The Pentagon says furloughs, which begin in July, will affect 72,000 in Virginia, 57,000 in California and 45,000 in Texas.
Furlough notices for civilian Pentagon employees are on hold for two weeks as the department combs through a continuing resolution spending bill just passed by Congress. The measure appears to free up some funds that could shrink the number of furlough days for Pentagon workers. The delay means the first furlough notices are set to go out April 5.
Workers at the Pentagon will begin receiving notices warning of impending furloughs, the first of which will begin April 25. Up to 800,000 civilian workers at the Defense Department face furloughs, which will occur in stages to Sept. 21. The furloughs are the result of sequestration, which Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., says the federal government is "not going to be able to avoid" the first year.
The Defense Department may furlough civilian workers to help pay for Afghanistan operations but protect major weapons programs and try to shift funds to high-priority programs if sequestration goes through, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale says. The comments are some of the first that reveal how the Pentagon may handle defense cuts if they take place.