By Eric Katz
The Defense Department is preparing to lay off more than 6,000 civilian employees starting in October, should sequestration cuts continue, as expected.
The Pentagon will begin the paperwork necessary to implement the reductions in force by mid-September if Congress fails to enact an alternative to the reduced budget levels, according to a new department planning document reported by Bloomberg News. In addition to the effects on civilian workforce, Defense is planning for significant cuts to procurement and research spending.
The Obama administration has stated its intentions to once again exempt military pay from sequestration cuts, thereby accentuating the impact of the deficit reduction program on Defense civilians. The Army is planning to cut its workforce by 2,100 employees and the Navy by more than 2,600. Departmentwide, agencies including the Defense Contract Management Agency, would have to lay off about 1,500 workers.
In fiscal 2015, the Pentagon would have to ask Congress for authority to offer early retirement incentives, according to Bloomberg.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 250,000 Defense civilians, said the department is targeting the wrong people.
“Why is the administration threatening to fire 6,300 civilian defense workers and leave its much larger and costlier contractor workforce almost untouched?” AFGE National President J. David Cox said in a statement to Government Executive. “Have they learned nothing from the furlough fiasco when fat cat contractors sat around and did nothing while the people who actually repair the weapons and train the troops were forced out on the street? They need to stop coddling contractors at the expense of military readiness.”