Many federal employees are feeling under attack. The never-ending series of budget "crises" and the unrelenting negative publicity aimed at federal employees becomes demoralizing to the average worker just trying to do their job. The sequestration, pay freezes, budget cuts and the incipient furloughs add to the oppressive environment that many workers inhabit.
As sequestration continues, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued instructions to federal agencies to limit incentive awards for employees and warned them to not attempt to shift money within their budgets to "soften the impact of sequestration."
The five stages of grief after a tragedy have been identified as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A federal employee union representative in Washington describes the situation his members are going through as that of a tragedy. Sequestration is the latest in the series of tragedies that have struck federal employees, and is part of a general trend against public employees.
The latest federal agency to begin the process of notifying employees of furloughs is Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agency, which has more than 60,000 employees, started sending notices that furloughs would begin after April 21 and could entail up to 14 days, spread across the rest of the fiscal year. CBP is going to use a hiring freeze, cutting travel and training budgets, and sharp cuts to overtime and compensatory time to achieve the needed budget cuts.
Now that Congress and the President have failed to prevent sequestration from going into effect, for many federal employees, the question on their minds becomes "what now?" The truth is, no one really knows, because no one has experience with this type of situation. Each agency will respond slightly differently, so how the sequestration cuts will affect employees will also vary.
As the deadline for sequestration looms, federal agencies have begun to discuss how they will achieve the mandated five percent across the board budget cuts that will be required on March 1. To achieve these cuts, many federal agencies will use unpaid furloughs, sending employees home and off their payroll.
As last-minute negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans appear to be proceeding with little likelihood of success, the automatic cuts to federal spending, known as sequestration will begin on January 2, 2013.