No Furloughs Expected at NASA Due to Sequester

No Furloughs Expected at NASA Due to Sequester

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden gave some welcome news to NASA employees today telling them that no furloughs are expected if the sequester goes into effect later this week.

Unlike many other government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD), the across-the-board spending cut of 5 percent would not require NASA to furlough workers to make ends meet.  “We have safely and efficiently phased out the Space Shuttle Program and managed existing programs to conservative spending levels,” Bolden said in a letter to employees. “This has postured us so that we do not plan to resort to furloughs at this time for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration,” he added.

Bolden noted that the sequester will not be as easy on the agency’s industry partners or the nation as a whole, and would set back NASA’s plans since it will cut “about $726 million from the President’s budget request.”   That would cause delays in the commercial crew and space technology programs and “push back our next generation space vehicles.”

DOD is warning of much greater consequences for its activities and notified Congress last week that it may have to furlough all of its 800,000 civil servants.   The Department of Commerce, NOAA’s parent agency, told the Senate Appropriations Committee in a  February 8 letter that up to 2,600 NOAA employees would have to be furloughed under the sequester.

The sequester will go into effect on March 1 if Congress does not act.   Furloughs are not expected to begin until April since employees need to be notified in advance of when they will occur.  DOD indicated earlier that its workers could be furloughed for as many as 22 days before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, a loss of about 20 percent of their income.  Presidential appointees and Members of Congress are not affected, though Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter vowed to turn back in an equivalent amount of his salary in solidarity with his workers.

The sequester applies to the Legislative Branch as well as the Executive Branch so congressional staff could be furloughed, too.

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