WASHINGTON – The head of the American Federation of Government Employees today rebuked the Department of Defense for awarding contracts worth tens of billions of dollars in March, even as the Pentagon says it will force about 700,000 civilian employees to stay home for nearly three work weeks without pay.
According to an article published by Bloomberg Government, the Pentagon announced contracts valued at as much as $39.4 billion in March, a 71 percent increase from the prior month. Meanwhile, DoD said it will have to furlough most of its civilian employees for 14 days between June and September because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
The unpaid furloughs will result in a 20% pay cut for the department’s 700,000 blue-collar and white-collar workers. It will save the Pentagon about $2.5 billion for the rest of the fiscal year, or about 0.8% of the $300 billion DoD will spend on goods and services contracts this year.
“It defies belief that Congress and the administration are unable to secure for the department the additional flexibility under sequestration necessary to squeeze less than one percent in savings from its contracts, in order to avoid arbitrarily cutting salaries for its own workers,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that nearly all civilian employees would be furloughed for 14 days, instead of the 22 days the department had originally proposed, and called it “good news” for employees. He claimed that there was no way to avoid the furloughs altogether, even though other agencies have been able to comply with the law without resorting to furloughs, including the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Secretary Hagel seems to believe that we should be happy with the crumbs he has thrown our way. Meanwhile, he’s invited contractors back to the table to resume their feast,” Cox said.