New Estimates Suggest Agencies Will See 7-8% Reductions Across-the-Board from Sequestration; Few Good Options Remain for Feds


New estimates from the Professional Services Council, an organization of government contracting firms, suggest Defense and nearly all non-Defense agencies will see cuts in the 7-8% range when sequestration takes effect next year.

Sequestration cuts of over $100 billion are mandated for 2013 as a result of the Congressional “Super Committee’s” failure to agree on a debt reduction deal last year. Over the next decade, more than $1 trillion in cuts will be leveled on federal agencies absent an alternative agreement. Since negotiations collapsed in November of 2011, the scheduled cuts have inched closer and closer with little action from either party in Congress.

Though there are few guarantees, especially in Washington, elected officials are widely anticipated to address the matter during the so-called ‘lame duck’ session of Congress. This session is the two-month period between Election Day and the beginning of the next official governing session beginning in January of the following year.

Several options have been put on the table for disarming the impending cuts, but one approach is of particular importance to federal employees. Many Republicans in Congress, most notably Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, have advocated the elimination of cuts to Defense at the expense of other federal agencies. This approach would take much of the anticipated $487 billion in cuts facing DoD and lump them squarely on the shoulders of federal employees. Their plan calls for an additional two years of frozen pay, a partial across-the-board hiring freeze, and a 5% reduction in the size of the federal workforce. This is on top of the nearly $500 billion in cuts levied against all other federal agencies such the USDA, HUD, and DOI, just to name a few.

The take home lesson here? There are few good options for federal employees whether sequestration is avoided or not.

“It’s simply unrealistic to think that lawmakers could squeeze federal employees for hundreds of billions more on top of what they have already sacrificed,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “But if members of Congress don’t get that message loud and clear, that is precisely what they will try to do. We need to start making a lot of noise in defense of federal workers’ pay, retirement, and jobs.”

The only way federal employees can change this is by getting active. Contacting your representatives and reminding them that your livelihoods, your jobs, and your communities are at stake is paramount. In an election year where every vote counts, remind them that they need to do their jobs and advocate for their constituents. With enough support, we can make a difference for ourselves and our fellow federal workers.

To learn more about what you can do to, visit the NFFE Legislative Action Center.