Vandenberg civilians received good news Tuesday after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced via press release that furlough days would be reduced from 11 to six days.

Furlough days began in July and were originally expected to last for 11 consecutive weeks. With the new guidance, Vandenberg civilians will furlough for the last time during the week of Aug. 11.

“It’s official,” said Col. Brent McArthur, 30th Space Wing vice commander. “Secretary Hagel has reduced the number of furlough days for appropriated fund employees from 11 to 6 days. The Sequestration induced fiscal year 2013 budget has created a very trying time for all of us, but more so for our dedicated civilian workforce.”

Barely at the projected half-way point, furlough days have already taken a measurable toll on all aspects of Vandenberg’s mission.

“Recently we asked units across Vandenberg to quantify how furlough has affected their mission,” said Ron Cortopassi, 30th Space Wing executive director. “What the units reported back to us varied from employees expressing frustration and attempting to cope with a drop in efficiency, contracts worth millions of dollars being descoped, to reduced range launch availability.”

According to Hagel’s press release, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges. If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, Department of Defense will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in fiscal year 2014, starting on Oct. 1.

“This represents 40 percent more than this year’s sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs,” Hagel stated in the press release.

Wing leadership mirrored the Secretary of Defense’s sentiment and thanked Team Vandenberg’s civilian Airmen for their dedication to Vandenberg’s mission.

“Needless to say, the sacrifices made by our dedicated employees are a testament to their great character and commitment to our mission,” McArthur said. “On behalf of Col. Balts, please accept my sincerest gratitude to all for your continued professionalism throughout this period.”


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