Pentagon to Delay Furlough Notices Until at Least April 5

The Defense Department said it’s delaying notices to civilian employees of planned furloughs until at least April 5, citing added funds in a spending measure that cleared Congress today.

“This delay will allow the department to carefully analyze the impact of the spending” bill on the Pentagon’s resources, Jessica Wright, acting head of personnel and readiness, wrote in a message to supervisors.

Pentagon managers had planned to notify as many as 750,000 civilian employees this week that they could face one day a week of unpaid leave starting April 25 because the deficit-reduction process called sequestration mandates cuts of $46 billion this fiscal year. It’s the first installment in $500 billion of reductions in planned spending over nine years.

The government-wide spending measure sent to President Barack Obama today for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 provides an additional $10 billion for the Defense Department’s operations and maintenance accounts, which includes civilian payrolls, and some flexibility in managing other funds.

“The legislation could have some impact on the overall number of furlough days, but no decisions have been reached,” Wright said in her message. Original plans would have forced employees to take as many as 22 days of furlough through September.

The delay will “assure our civilian employees that we do not take lightly the prospect of furloughs and the resulting decrease in employee pay,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in an e-mailed statement.

Military personnel are exempt from the across-the-board budget cuts.

The funding shift by Congress for Pentagon programs is part of a $518 billion defense bill, not including war spending, that was incorporated into the broader government spending measure. That amount is then subject to the $46 billion in automatic cuts through Sept. 30.

The bill to fund the government is H.R. 933