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Panetta to Congress: DoD Civillian Furloughs Coming

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Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, brief the press at the Pentagon, Jan. 10, 2013. DoD Photo

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, brief the press at the Pentagon, Jan. 10, 2013. DoD Photo

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued a message to the Pentagon’s civilian employees warning of coming furloughs if mandatory cuts from sequestration go through, Wednesday.

“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,” Panetta said in the message.

“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.”

For the Navy’s part, the service plans to furlough about 186,000 civilian employees for 22 days for a savings of about $445 million.

Panetta notified Congress on Wednesday civilian furloughs were a likely outcome if Congress could not resolve the sequestration cuts by the deadline.

“We have to implement furloughs, all affected employees will be provided at least 30 days’ notice prior to executing a furlough and your benefits will be protected to the maximum extent possible,” he said.