HILL AFB — For most civilian employees at Hill AFB, “the Furlough of 2013” is history.
That’s thanks to an announcement earlier this month cutting the number of furlough days from 11 to six. But by the time of the announcement, most had already completed those six days, said base spokesman Richard Essary.
The furlough period was scheduled to end Saturday, Aug. 17.
“I would like to thank our civilian workers for their patience and continued dedication to our installation’s diverse missions during the furlough period,” said Col. Kathryn Kolbe, 75th Air Base Wing commander.
Defense Secretary Charles Hagel said earlier this month that he had intended to “do everything possible to find the money to reduce furlough days.”
He said managers across DoD are making final decisions needed to ensure $37 billion in spending cuts mandated by sequestration are met, “while also doing everything to limit damage to military readiness and our workforce.”
The DoD faced shortfalls of more than $30 billion in its budget for day-to-day operating costs when sequestration took effect March 1.
At that point furloughs of up to 22 days were being strongly considered.
This latest announcement is due in part to congressional approval allowing moving of acquisition accounts into day-to-day operating accounts, and less than expected costs in some other areas, Hagel said.
“While we are still depending on furlough savings, we will be able to make up our budgetary shortfall in this fiscal year with fewer furlough days than initially announced,” he reiterated.
He called this budget cycle “one of the most volatile and uncertain the Department of Defense has ever experienced.”
Rep. Rob Bishop responded to the furlough reduction news by saying, “Secretary Hagel is validating what many of us thought all along – that furloughing civilian defense workers, particularly Air Force workers, could have been avoided.
“I realize after three rounds of draconian cuts to the defense budget, the DoD had to make cuts just about everywhere possible,” he said. “However, there were early indications, particularly following congressional action, that furloughs may not actually be necessary and that cuts could be absorbed in other areas.”
He added that the right thing would be for Hagel to reduce furlough days to zero.