The threat of furloughs loomed large early in 2013, when mandatory budget cuts seemed certain to force federal workers to skip anywhere from 10 to 22 days of work without pay this year. A new tally by Federal News Radio shows that many agencies have taken fewer than half the days they had predicted.
"While some agencies anticipated many furlough days, the actual number turned out to be much smaller," writes Federal News Radio's Michael O'Connell. "Other agencies were able to find savings elsewhere and avoid furloughs altogether."
Update at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 27: Furloughs In The Courts
In addition to the agencies we first reported on, furloughs have had a large impact on workers in the federal judiciary, as readers' comments show.
One reader who works as a federal public defender wrote in to say he had just taken his tenth furlough day of 2013. He added a link to a report by the American Bar Association and the Government Accountability Office listing furloughs and other cuts that stemmed from sequestration this year; it shows that in some offices, employees are enduring weeks' worth of furloughs. But even that report is not exhaustive, as its authors note.
Gauging the effect of furloughs on federal employees is complicated by the size of the workforce and agencies in question, and by the seeming lack of a mechanism for furloughs to be reported, compiled, and listed at a central location.
Our original post continues:
As of last week, O'Connell reports, the agency that has taken the most furlough days is the Office of Management and Budget, with seven. The Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency have each taken six, he says.
Earlier this year, all three agencies had predicted double-digit furlough days — 22 for Defense, and 10 for the EPA and the OMB.
That's the information we glean from O'Connell's article, and the Federal News Radio's Furlough Tracker. The news agency's rundown of furlough days isn't an official tally, we should note; some agencies have been more forthcoming with their data than others. If you have better information than what we're presenting here, please share it in the comments section below.
When the Federal Aviation Administration embarked on its furlough schedule this summer — and reports of flight delays immediately rolled in — Congress acted quickly to give the agency more budget flexibility, allowing it to avoid the furloughs.
Some of the agencies that reportedly avoided furloughs altogether are the Department of Agriculture, the Education Department, the Customs and Border Protection agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the news service reports.
Many federal agencies reduced spending and expenses to reduce or eliminate the need to impose furloughs on their employees. Several agencies have canceled furlough days as the end of the current financial year on Sept. 30 approaches.
Furloughs have also had an effect on two lesser-known entities: the Merit Systems Protection Board, which has received more than 30,000 furlough appeals in 2013; and the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, which warns that it may no longer be able to give emergency loans to furloughed employees, after receiving 750 loan requests since May, Federal News reports.