At Fort Belvoir, 21,100 Federal Employees May See Furloughs

As clock ticks down to March 1, federal employees brace for sequestration.

Sequestration will mean furloughs — unpaid days off — for federal workers across the country, and Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County will certainly feel the pain. The base is home to 21,100 civilian employees at 26 Department of Defense agencies, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Washington Headquarters Services and the U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command

"The assumption is that the offices and units will continue to operate on a full schedule, and supervisors and commanders are still looking at priorities, and also what can be put off to tomorrow," said Don Carr, Fort Belvoir spokesman. "Because what you can't do today is something that may have to be done tomorrow."

What will be the impact of sequestration at Fort Belvoir?

"I don't think anyone can tell you the exact impacts," said Carr, who has been in the civil service for 20 years. "That's too speculative. But maybe now is not a good time for me to think about buying that new car, because I don't know what the future holds because I'll only be working 32 hours a week instead of 40. The individual now has to take an assessment of how it will impact them personally."

About 800,000 Department of Defense employees will be subject to the furloughs, and there are eight days left until sequestration - billions in automatic, across-the-board defense cuts - kick in on March 1. 

Unless Congress comes to an agreement on $1.2 trillion in debt reduction by March 1, the U.S. military will cut $46 billion and domestic defense spending will be cut by $85 billion this year. Furloughs would start in mid-April, since federal employees must be given a 30-day notification. 

Congress will allow the sequestration process to begin, according to a new study by Wells Fargo

"It is likely that a deal will be reached to offset some spending cuts with tax increases or closing loopholes but, in general, we do not expect the magnitude of spending cuts to be significantly reduced," according to the study. "We still expect some moderate impact on state economies from the pullback in government spending in the short term, as agencies hold off on major spending commitments and put hiring on hold. The magnitude of the impact will be left to policymakers."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta released this statement Wednesday to DoD personnel:

"We are doing everything possible to limit the worst effects on DoD personnel - but I regret that our flexibility within the law is extremely limited. The president has used his legal authority to exempt military personnel funding from sequestration, but we have no legal authority to exempt civilian personnel funding from reductions. As a result, should sequestration occur and continue for a substantial period, DoD will be forced to place the vast majority of its civilian workforce on administrative furlough."

The furloughs would affect the air travel industry. The Federal Aviation Administration "is going to face a cut of roughly $600 million under sequester," said Danny Werfel of the Office of Management and Budget at a Senate hearing last week, according to NPR. "A vast majority of their 47,000 employees will be furloughed for one day per pay period for the rest of the year, and, as importantly, this is going to reduce air traffic levels across the country, causing delays and disruptions for all travelers."

On Monday, members of Virginia's congressional delegation — Rep. James P. Moran (D-8th), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will join air travel association and employee organizations at a press conference at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Members of Virginia's congressional delegation sounded the alarm last week to Capitol Hill and President Obama. "The consequences of a failure to avert sequestration will ripple through all parts of our state economy and could lead to a hollow military force and a government unable to adequately respond to the needs of its citizens," according to a letter sent to congressional leadership and the White House last week from Moran, Connolly, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) and Senators Kaine and Mark Warner (D).

The Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce will hold a discussion of sequestration's economic effects on Fairfax County and the Route 1 corridor on Thursday, March 7. Click here for more information

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Jackie Richeson February 24, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Marie - Thank you for reminding all the Federal Government workers of what is fair and what is no big deal. After all, none of us know what it's like to be unemployed or are taking care of children or parents who can't afford to live. We have all had a year to plan? Actually, we have all had now three years to realize that we would not get any cost of living increases because we had to sacrifice for the good of all. And for the TSA (that's the Federal employees at the airport) not having to worry about anyone's safety in the air (guess you missed 9/11), it's all about only the "chosen few" being safe. How about all the soldiers who live down the road at Fort Belvoir and through out the area? Did you know that the firefighters and security guards on posts are Federal employees? Oh well, guess they need to suck it up and realize there are Americans that don't have jobs. Unless you are an expert on the multitude of work we provide every day, you might want to think that is we aren't keeping this country strong, our enemies are watching and looking for our vulnerabilities. Geez Marie, why not think next time of the impact of your words before sharing your words of wisdom.
Nick Whitten February 25, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Marie, the short version...you are a moron, the end!
1Ronald February 25, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Can we send Marie over to Afghanistan and put her on the front lines? How about that invasion, Marie? You think we Americans should pay for that? That we should sit home without pay while military serviceman are EXEMPT from the furloughs, from the pay cuts? You think THAT is fair, Marie? And, Maries, while we're on the subject, how about all of those bases scattered around the world? And US occupation of other countries that fans the flames of radical islam? How would YOU like Hugo setting up a base in Ciolorado? Same thing. Just a different foot. Marie, in the name of fairness, why don't YOU call for an end to this foolishness and jail terms for political warmongers. So that no one gets furloughed. So that no middle class entitlements are on the chopping block. AND that joke called the The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (often called Bowles-Simpson/Simpson-Bowles Committee? Who NEVER got their head out of the clouds either whose only purpose was to wage war on the middle class American. And, as I watched that pompous senior citizen Committee Member, Alice Rivlin, on CNN yesterday, as fake as that jet black wig she was wearing, I became so nauseous I cut the TV off.
Audrey Taylor Burkhalter February 25, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Marie, I am certainly glad that you fully know the finanicial burden losing one day of pay per week will have on my family of 4. While you may think that it is "not that big of a deal", the government employees who this will impact such as myself, it is a very big deal. Next time, try not to stick your foot into your mouth before you speak and think about others.
Debbie February 26, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Not an impact in the work output? Multiply one day per week by the number of people affected and then visualize those who have to take up the additional workload because those people are not at work. This is going to impact medical facilities as well and they are still expected to maintain full coverage of the services they provide. I thank the poster who pointed out that we have not received any cost of living increases in three years. And many of us have seen our salaries cut to be far below those in the private sector. This is not resulting in incentives to stay in the Federal Government and provide the stability for divisions/department with a majority of military staff who rotate every three years.


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