The Federal Government’s largest agency- the Department of Defense- just issued specific guidance  planning for the present line-in-the-sand Fiscal Cliff date of March 01, 2013.

Wartime operations, Active Military staffing, and Veterans programs are off-limits.  Most of the Fiscal Cliff ‘War Plan’ will take cuts from other programs and the DoD civilian workforce.   Some likely Fiscal Cliff War Plan tactics affecting civilian employees include:

  • Hiring Freeze
  • RIF (Reduction in Force)
  • VSIP (Voluntary Separation Incentive Program)
  • VERA – Voluntary Early Retirement Authority
  • Administrative Furloughs of up to ’30 calendar days or 22 discontinuous workdays’.

Once again, for those not fluent in OPM-ese, there are two types of furlough– The ‘Administrative Furlough‘ and the ‘Shutdown (aka Emergency) Furlough‘.  This discussion refers to the ‘Administrative Furlough‘- where DoD employees (and likely other agency employees, for that matter) take a planned furlough for up to one work day per pay period (once per 2 weeks).

There are some rules.  The Agency must give advance notice to affected employees:

  • 30 days notification for admin furloughs of less than 22 work days or less
  • 60 day notification for ‘extended’ admin furloughs of 22 work days or more (required per 5 CFR part 351)

(…Umm, we’re already inside of 60-days to March 1st… does this mean there can’t/won’t be a planned 22-day furlough?)

For further reading, OPM’s specific guidance for Administrative Furloughs.  (Includes employee furlough notification forms!)

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As mentioned here, the next food fight in DC will be regarding the Debt Ceiling.  The Treasury Secretary is already taking extraordinary measures to continue to operate the US Government as we bump up against the current debt limit.

Many of you have heard the post-fiscal-cliff-deal-did-nothing-about-sequestration saber rattling of the impending Government Shutdown.  If you don’t already know, the first rule about Government Shutdown is- There is no Government Shutdown.

For those not fluent in OPM-ese, there are two types of furlough– The ‘Administrative Furlough‘ and the ‘Shutdown (aka Emergency) Furlough‘.

This discussion refers to the ‘Shutdown (Emergency) Furlough‘.

 As fallout from the two Clinton-Gingrich Government Shutdowns  of 1995-1996, most government agency heads got wise and put together boilerplate policies to enable their agencies to continue performing their core functions during the next inevitable government shutdown.  For example, during the 2011 threatened shutdown, the DoD issued this policy, which clearly states:

Operations and activities that are essential to safety, protection of human life, and protection of our national security, are ‘excepted’ from shutting down….Other excepted activities will include inpatient and essential outpatient care in DoD medical treatment facilities; emergency dental care; non-appropriated funds activities such as mess halls and child care activities; certain legal activities to support ongoing litigation and legal assistance for deployed DoD personnel; contracting and logistics operations that are in support of excepted activities; certain education and training activities to include the DoD education activity schools; and financial management activities necessary to ensure the control and accountability of funds. 


…Military personnel are not subject to furlough and will report for duty as normal during the shutdown. Reserve component personnel should refer to the DoD Contingency Guidance document and to their chain of command for more specific information.

…Civilian personnel deemed to be performing excepted activities will continue to work during the period of a shutdown. 

Can you think of any DoD function left out here?  I can’t think of too many off-hand.  I’m singling-out DoD here because I’m an employee and pay the most attention to its Secretary’s instructions, but there are similar policies in place for State, Treasury, Justice, etc departments.

So for all the squawking and hype, my best read is that lawmakers have become wise that a  government ‘shutdown’ is a misnomer- It doesn’t really shut anything down and does not save the government a significant amount of $$.  Therefore, I believe an ‘Administrative Furlough’ is the more likely scenario in the upcoming Feb-Mar 2013 debt ceiling/sequestration showdown.

For further reading on a possible ‘Shutdown Furlough’, here’s a recent Washington Post primer on the guidance for the last proposed government shutdown.

The Next GubMints post will deal with the issue of the ‘Administrative Furlough’… standby!

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I’ve updated the recent analysis about Fiscal Cliff (aka Sequestration) impact on your wallet, now that we have a ‘Fiscal Cliff Deal’ struck on 02 January 2013.

There’s also a good synopsis of the ‘Deal’ done by Fidelity Investments.

Graphic click will take you to the updated GubMints ‘Fiscal Deal’ analysis post:

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(Update 3/21/2013.   The Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through end of FY13 extends the federal employee pay freeze through FY13).

Good News.

By Executive Order, the Federal Pay Freeze in effect since 2009 will be lifted on March 27th, 2013.

Most federal employees (including those on the General Schedule) will see a 0.5 percent increase in their top line.


What you’ll take home at the end of the day is still uncertain.  As mentioned here before, other items which could negate or even make 2013 a net loss in federal take home pay include:


  • Expiration of the Payroll  Tax.
  • Increase in your FERS contribution/salary withholding.
  • Increase in FEHB Premiums.
  • 50% cut in the Health Care Flex Spending Account under ObamaCare.

That said, even a token increase of 0.5% is a much-needed morale boost for federal employees.