Defense furlough to end; 6,100 to return to work
The more than 6,100 civilian Department of Defense employees in the Tri-Counties will return to work full time after a U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a furlough program will be cut short, ending next week.
The military is the largest employer in the region, with 26,390 employees between Naval Base Ventura County and Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County. Active duty personnel aren’t affected by the furlough program, but civilian employees are.
The furloughs were originally slated to cut one day a week for 11 weeks. On Aug. 9, Hagel announced that figure would be cut to six furlough days, effectively ending the furlough next Friday.
“It’s official,” Col. Brent McArthur, 30th Space Wing vice commander at Vandenberg, said in a press release. “Secretary Hagel has reduced the number of furlough days for appropriated fund employees from 11 to 6 days. The Sequestration induced fiscal year 2013 budget has created a very trying time for all of us, but more so for our dedicated civilian workforce.”
Also in a press release, Ron Cortopassi, 30th Space Wing executive director at Vandenberg, said a survey of personnel there found that operations were bogged down by losing one day a week.
“What the units reported back to us varied from employees expressing frustration and attempting to cope with a drop in efficiency, contracts worth millions of dollars being descoped, to reduced range launch availability,” he said in a release.
The 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg said 1,137 employees were affected there, though there are also other units housed on the base that could experience furloughs among civilian employees. About 5,000 employees were affected at Naval Base Ventura County.