850 McConnell civilian workers among those to receive furlough notices

Notices will start going out this week to Department of Defense civilian employees, including nearly 850 at McConnell Air Force Base, to officially tell them they will be required to take up to 11 days of furlough starting July 8.

The employees will be required to take a furlough day at the rate of one per week through Sept. 30, which is the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, according to a Pentagon memo.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the furloughs on May 14 as the result of $37 billion in spending cuts mandated by the sequester. The department reduced Army training, held ships dockside and slashed Air Force training missions, but it still faced a $30 billion shortfall.

The 11-day furloughs will save the department $1.8 billion, Pentagon officials have said.

The department initially thought it might have to furlough civilian workers for up to 22 days, the legal maximum allowed. That was later reduced to 14 days before Hagel set it at 11 days.

Furloughs will affect about 1,100 Kansas National Guard full-time employees, or about 54 percent of its total workforce, according to the agency. More than 300 of those are included in the 850 workers facing furloughs at McConnell.

In addition, about 2,700 civilian employees at Fort Riley will be receiving the furlough notices.

More than 90 percent of the department’s 750,000 civilian workers will be required to take the furlough days.

Hagel has said he still hopes to make other cuts so he can trim the furlough days before Sept. 30.

Furlough notices will be delivered through June 5. According to procedures Hagel wrote in a memo, employees will have seven days to file an appeal arguing against the decision. They will receive a response by July 5.

Local commanders have leeway to set aside furloughs for some employees in order to lessen harm to national security, department officials said. Financial hardship will not be accepted as a reason to be excused from taking a furlough.

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