Lawmakers are currently considering protecting some U.S. Department of Defense employees from future furloughs. Legislation that was introduced earlier this month would ban the DoD from furloughing those employees whose salaries are paid out of working capital funds. The argument for this reform is that fees and various charges–rather than the appropriations process–pays the salaries of these workers, and thus furloughing them does not result in any budgetary savings.
The Federal Times reports that 170,000 federal employees would gain furlough protection should the legislation pass. The legislation was introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 earlier this month.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer stated in a press release: “Sending these workers home without pay just means needlessly delaying projects that have already been funded.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, who introduced the amendment with Rep. Kilmer, said that in addition to delaying important projects, the furloughs of these workers ends up leading to costly overtime expenses later.
Many of the DoD employees who are paid through working capital funds work for agencies whose annual budgets revolve around fees paid by their customers.
Last year during sequestration many DoD employees were hit hard by furloughs. In fact, over 650,000 workers, including many working capital fund employees, were furloughed for about six days. Shortly thereafter, questions arose about whether DoD officials really had the authority to furlough the working capital fund employees; the Dod, of course, maintained that it did have this power.
The future of this federal employment legislation remains to be seen.
Source: Federal Times, “Lawmakers push furlough protection for DoD employees,” Andy Medici, May 20, 2014 Source: Federal News Radio, “House NDAA amendment preemptively blocks some DoD furloughs,” Jack Moore, May 20, 2014