Defense will lay off up to 46,000 - CORRECTION

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Correction: No decision yet on DoD furloughs

Jan 31, 2013: The Defense Department has not decided to begin furloughing its full time civilian workforce, as we erroneously reported.

"Furloughs would be the result of sequestration, and sequestration doesn't begin until March 2," said Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Before furloughs can occur, Congress requires a 45 day notification and employees would get a 30 day notification, Robbins added.

"These are all very important steps that we haven't made yet because we haven't yet come to a decision," she said. Furloughs would likely take the shape of one unpaid day per week during the last 22 weeks of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, she added.

Temporary and contractor workers may be let go before any final decision of furloughs is made; up to 46,000 such workers could be affected.

We deeply regret the error.


The Pentagon has started to lay off temporary civilian and contract workers to cut spending ahead of the an anticipated March 1 budget sequestration. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said layoffs could reach as high as 46,000 workers.

A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed the figures from Carter as well as the Defense Department plans to furlough full time civilian workers for one day a week for the next 22 weeks. Carter originally made the statements to reporters on Friday.

Carter said the furloughs would save up to $5 billion. It follows prior guidance (.pdf) he issued on Jan. 10, where he suggested the services consider cutting temporary workers and when the services were given the authority to freeze hiring and cut maintenance spending.

Each service is required to submit a cost-cutting plan to the Pentagon by Feb. 1.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta first warned of furloughs impacting DoD's 800,000 full time workers in a Jan. 2 memo, saying unpaid leave would be necessary to address across-the-board spending cuts. 

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little has said DoD prefers the furlough to punishing "a small group of civilian employees by firing them because Congress can't do its job."

The American Federation of Government Employees says that the Defense Finance and Account Service has instituted a hiring freeze and reduced both travel and overtime because of the coming sequester, according to email from DFAS Director Terri McKay.

For more:
- download Carter's Jan. 10 memo (.pdf)

Related articles:
March 1 sequestration would cost DoD $45 billion, comptroller says
Sequestration planning must intensify, says OMB
Cliff averted but sequester still looms