China Lake postpones furloughs

Navy awaits guidance before implementing cuts; McCarthy responds to Senate budget bill

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

China Lake postpones furloughsAn internal memo circulated among China Lake employees indicates that sequestration-triggered furloughs will be delayed pending further interpretation of the still-hazy fiscal landscape in the wake of a newly passed budget.

“We just received direction from the Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Per-sonnel and Readiness and DOD Comptroller to delay releasing notice of proposed furlough letters to our employees for approximately two weeks — on or about April 5,” states an e-mail signed by Vice Adm. David Dunaway, commander of the Naval Air Systems Command and a previous commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.

“This delay will allow the department to carefully analyze the impact of the continuing resolution legislation on the department’s resources, including the readiness accounts.”

Both the House and Senate passed legislation (delineated later in this article) that Dunaway said could impact the overall number of furlough days. “But no decision has been reached,” especially since the bill awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

“The number of furlough days at this point remains up to 22 days through the end of this fiscal year. For now, we are standing by for clearance from DOD prior to releasing any furlough notices,” wrote Dunaway.

“I understand this dynamic environment is unsettling. I will keep you posted as I receive new information.”

When Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert toured China Lake in January, both expressed in the press conference here the im-portance of maintaining control within DOD to make discretion-ary cuts, rather than the across-the-board 9-percent algorithmic cut imposed by sequestration.

McCarthy said that he and his peers in the House — who opposed sequestration from the beginning — had been working toward alternate solutions. Greenert indicated that because of the high value placed on the mission at China Lake, the impact of cuts would not be as great on the local base if the Navy had latitude to make vertical, rather than horizontal, cuts.

“Families across the country have had to sit around the kitchen table and make tough decisions about their household budgets,” said McCarthy in a statement released last week following the passage of the House bill and subsequent passage of the Senate bill and its revisions.

“There were two choices, continue the same Democratic tax, spend and borrow policies that have been the foundation of our beleaguered economy, or make the tough decisions to balance the budget and reform our tax code to lay the foundation of an era of prosperity for Americans today and for our future generations.”

The initial budget bill passed through the House included defense-related appropriations bills. The Senate amendments included agriculture, commerce, science and homeland security components. McCarthy’s office noted that the local congressman voted for the bill, since it provided those agencies — and DOD in particular — some flexibility.

However, the FY13 budget does adjust the FY12 spending levels. Although China Lake Public Affairs did not have that information at press time, many sources estimate that DOD (and China Lake) will be absorbing a reduction of approximately 10 percent.

According to a spokesman for McCarthy, the recalibration of defense spending to meet current priorities, combined with the defense transfer and reprogramming authority, will effectively reduce the adverse impact of sequestration on the military.

Other insiders note that DOD is seeking a unilateral application of furloughs. By those same reports, the Navy has managed to balance its budget within the new formula. But if other branches of service cannot manage to do the same, furloughs kick in for everyone.

Additional information will be reported as it becomes available.

Story First Published: 2013-03-27