The Richmond Register

Local News

March 27, 2013

Sequestration furloughs pushed back two weeks at Army depot

MADISON COUNTY — The enactment of furloughs for civilian Department of Defense workers has been delayed by at least two weeks, according to officials at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

The furloughs were supposed to start in late April, and formal notices were set to go out to hundreds of Blue Grass Army Depot workers Thursday and Monday, according to Mark Henry, acting public affairs officer for the depot.

The furloughs are a part of automatic cost-cutting measures (sequestration) that the federal government must follow because Congress was unable to come to agreement on mandated budget cuts.

Civilian DoD workers originally were to reduce their hours 20 percent for 22 weeks, Henry said. That would mean a reduction of eight hours for every 40-hour work week.

However, Congress was able to pass a continuing resolution last week that will keep the government funded until Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year, according to Henry.

In that bill, $10 billion in operating and maintenance funding was appropriated for the Defense Department, which can cover employee wages. This gave the DoD some flexibility when it came to implementing the furloughs, Henry said.

However, the sequestration measures must still be taken at some point unless Congress enacts a plan to reduce government spending by $1.2 trillion.

Three groups are active at the Army installation between Richmond and Berea – the Blue Grass Army Depot, Blue Grass Chemical Activity and the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.

Blue Grass Army Depot workers will be the most affected by furloughs. About 760 civilians may be required to reduce their hours 20 percent if furloughs go into effect, Henry said.

The mission of BGAD is to provide conventional ammunition services, chemical defense equipment management and manufacturing capabilities for the Department of Defense.

When asked how the furlough will impact critical emergency services personnel, such as the on-post fire department, Henry said negotiations are ongoing with various unions and each position will be closely examined.

“It’s a tough situation right now,” Henry said. “Everyone is aware of the situation.”

"We're in limbo” right now, he said, as thousands of government workers across the country wait to see if Congress will take any action.

“The civilian workforce (at BGAD) is critical to supporting out war fighters,” Henry said.

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