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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Pentagon Warns that Sequester of 8 Percent of Its Budget Could Lead to Furloughs for 140 Percent of Its Employees

Pentagon Warns that Sequester of 8 Percent of Its Budget Could Lead to Furloughs for 140 Percent of Its Employees

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Monday, 31 December 2012 16:30

Yes, it's the season of the whopper here in DC as the dreaded Mayan apocalypse (a.k.a. "fiscal cliff) approaches. According to the Washington Post, unnamed Pentagon officials warned that it may have to furlough up to 800,000 civilian employees if the budget sequester goes into effect this week. That sounds really scary since the Labor Department says that the Defense Department has less than 560,000 civilian employees. How is this supposed to work exactly?

 

[Note: Typos corrected, thanks Elizabeth.]

Comments (16)Add Comment
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written by Charlie, December 31, 2012 4:03
Maybe they have 800,000 spies that aren't counted as "official" employees?
sequestor and perrcent?
written by Elizabeth, December 31, 2012 4:13
Typos on purpose?
Party Pooper
written by Bart, December 31, 2012 4:46

Uh, I'm thinking they are including Beltway Bandits.
Double Secret Furlough
written by TK421, December 31, 2012 5:12
They are going to hire 240,000 people then immediately furlough them. Or secretly furlough that many people twice.
What's the end of the world coming to?
written by cemmcs, December 31, 2012 5:42
Sheesh, you can't even believe unnamed pentagon officials anymore!
Service Contract Employees
written by Cujo359, January 01, 2013 3:25
It looks to me like the unnamed Pentagon official may be referring to both Civil Service employees (the GS-XX types) and service contract employees. The latter aren't the Pentagon's employees technically, but they often do the same sort of work.

Many civilian defense workers (I'd guess most civilian defense workers, but I haven't checked in a while) are actually employeed by corporations that are on contract to provide workers of particular types and numbers. This is different from what most folks think of as defense contracting - here's a billion dollars, now build us a couple of airplanes, that sort of thing. People employed on these service contracts, OTOH, are taking orders directly from whatever agency they're working with, and often are employed testing or evaluating the products of other defense contractors.

In short, if you don't know one from the other, it's easy to get GS employees and people who work on such contracts confused.
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written by jay, January 01, 2013 8:15
I agree these additional employees could be contract employees. They usually get paid substantially more than government employees to do the same work but they don't benefits.
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written by skeptonomist, January 01, 2013 8:30
The DOD website says 718k civilian employees.
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written by Last Mover, January 01, 2013 9:04
Aren't these jobs already scheduled to be transformed into armed guards at schools anyway? After all it's a perfect fit.
Better data source
written by D. Murphy, January 01, 2013 11:22
URL
written by D. Murphy, January 01, 2013 11:27
If anyone is trying to use it, the link for OPM shouldn't have the "" at the end.
...
written by D. Murphy, January 01, 2013 11:38
OK, the part between the quotes was six characters: left bracket, slash, the text:url, right bracket.

:)
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written by watermelonpunch, January 02, 2013 2:08
The term "furlough" would not refer to contract employees. Even if this person meant contract employees and just used furlough for the whole kit & kaboodle of job loss - that in itself is disturbing inaccurate information.
At best it would mean that the source didn't know the difference between contract employees and government employees. At worst it meant they were trying to gloss over the fact that the cuts would be a lot of contract employees - knowing that outsourcing isn't exactly popular.
Just a guess. But the numbers don't add up no matter what.

And please just re-post that link please. You'd need to tell us what's missing in the ... area to be able to cut & paste it. Makes sense at this point to just re-post the link!!
...
written by liberal, January 02, 2013 7:22
Cujo539 wrote,

In short, if you don't know one from the other, it's easy to get GS employees and people who work on such contracts confused.


I'm such a contract employee at DHHS. The contract thing is essentially a joke; the main reason it's done AFAICT is that it allows the government to claim that the number of Fed employees is shrinking, by laundering employee numbers via these contracts.

But the notion that someone working for the government could confuse the two is ludicrous. At least here at HHS, the difference is even evident in our email aliases; we contractors have to have a "[C]" after our name, employees an "[E]". And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
...
written by Cujo359, January 02, 2013 10:20
"But the notion that someone working for the government could confuse the two is ludicrous."

When someone asks the head of an agency how many people work in that agency, my bet is that he will usually include both GS and contractors in that count. That's neither ludicrous nor unusual. That's how people talked all the time while I worked on a contract basis for DoD.
Shadow Army
written by Rich Austin, January 05, 2013 10:28
Perhaps they are including members of the "shadow army" aka Academi - previously known as Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide. Including mercenaries could bring the total to 800,000.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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