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DOD furloughs days cut from 11 days to six
News that Department of Defense civilian furloughs are being reduced from 11 days to six was welcome news Tuesday in Oak Harbor.
The announcement was made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
The furloughs, part of the larger government sequestration, began the week of July 8. About 1,200 civilian workers at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station were slated for an 11-week furlough, comprising a loss of one day a week or 20 percent of their income through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Four weeks into the furloughs, the change means civilians will return to work five days a week starting Aug. 19, cutting the furlough days by five.
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Public Affairs Officer Mike Welding said Tuesday afternoon the base had not received official word and therefore could not comment on the announcement.
Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Director Kathy Reed said the news is “obviously good” both for individual families and the community at large.
“Anytime you reduce someone’s income by 20 percent, it’s a huge hit,” she said.
“To get people’s income back to where they were will obviously be good for commerce.”
While most DOD employees are furloughed on Fridays, some are off Mondays to ensure service needs are met.
It is unclear how many of the base’s 1,200 contractors are affected by the furloughs. However, contractors who require DOD employee supervision are also furloughed.
Sequestration took effect March 1 with the DOD facing a shortfall of more than $30 billion in its budget for day-to-day operating costs because of sequestration and problems with wartime funding, according to the release.
At that point, leadership believed the DOD would be facing up to 22 days of furloughs.
As part of the DOD’s efforts to come up with funding to end the furloughs, Hagel said that, “thanks to the DOD’s efforts to identify savings and help from Congress, we will reduce the total numbers of furlough days.”
Hoping to be able to reduce furloughs, the DOD submitted a large reprogramming proposal to Congress in May, asking them to move funds from acquisition accounts into day-to-day operating accounts, according to the news release.