WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) and 30 of his colleagues expressed concern over the Department of Defense’s decision to impose furloughs on civilian employees working at facilities – such as Fleet Readiness Center East – that are supported by Defense Working Capital funds.  In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the bipartisan coalition requested clarification as to whether these civilian workers are considered “indirectly funded government employees of the Department of Defense” under 10 USC 129.  Employees classified as such enjoy certain legal exemptions that would prevent them from being furloughed as a result of sequestration. 

The letter also asked the Defense Department to provide an estimate of the cost-savings achieved by subjecting these workers to furloughs, as Defense Working Capital funds are designed to be self-sustaining and workers’ salaries are often already included in project funds.  Jones and his colleagues additionally noted that the furloughs would delay the completion of projects that are already funded, resulting in overtime and an ultimate increase in cost for the Department of Defense and taxpayers.   

“Implementing these furloughs will only prevent the hard-working employees at FRC East and other depots from completing projects – each of which are necessary to maintaining our military readiness – that have already received funding,” said Congressman Jones.

Congressman Jones has been a consistent opponent of sequestration, having voted against the 2011 bill that created it, and has spoken out on several occasions against the Defense Department’s use of furloughs to achieve the required budget cuts.  He has supported multiple bills to attain equivalent cost-savings without harming military readiness.  He also urged President Barack Obama to heed the request of the Secretary of the Navy to eliminate civilian furloughs for the Department of the Navy, an appeal that the president ultimately denied.