The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 17, 2013

Furloughs hinder long-term defense mission, harm morale

ENID, Okla. — Unfortunately, the Defense Department announced furloughs for around 680,000 of its civilian employees for 11 days through the end of this fiscal year, according to The Associated Press.

Specifically, the furloughs will affect all 251 civilian Departent of Defense employees at Vance Air Force Base in Enid. That hits close to home, and our sympathy goes out to those local residents.

Civilians funded in the Military Intelligence Program will be subject to the unpaid days off.

Those would include workers in military intelligence agencies such as the Air Force, Special Operations Command and the Army and Navy intelligence offices.

However, officials expect that civilian intelligence largely in the CIA will be exempt from furloughs.

Other exempt workers include civilians in the war zone and in critical public safety jobs, as well as people whose jobs are not paid for through congressional funding.

Overall, defense officials say about 15 percent of the department’s civilian workforce will be exempt from the furloughs.

The furlough notices are expected to begin going out May 28, and workers will have several days to respond or seek appeals, according to AP.

The unpaid days off would begin no sooner than July 8. Officials said the furloughs will save the department about $1.8 billion.

We think the financial burden of furloughs hinders the long-term ability of the department to carry out the national defense mission and harms morale.

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