Sequestration could spell $39B in cuts to civilian agency budgets

Thursday - 8/30/2012, 8:32pm EDT

Stan Soloway, president and CEO, Professional Services Council

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Civilian agencies may lose almost $40 billion dollars in top-line funding if sequestration goes into effect on Jan. 2, according to a new analysis by the Professional Services Council.

Using fiscal 2012 funding as a baseline, PSC calculated overall civilian discretionary spending would decline by $39 billion and that individual agency budgets would decline by 7.8 percent.

In an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose, Stan Soloway, PSC's president and CEO, noted that the group's numbers represent only a top-line figure.

Courtesy: PSC

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"There's all kinds of permutations underneath that that make it difficult to figure out — I don't think anyone really knows — specifically where the cuts will come yet," Soloway said. "But what happens Jan. 2, assuming nothing changes in terms of sequestration, is the hammer comes down."

Beyond that, it's difficult to say how particular programs will fare, Soloway said.

The reductions under sequestration run down through agency budgets to what's known as the program, project and activity level, Soloway said. The Office of Management and Budget has yet to provide an explanation of that level. However, by Sept. 8, the President is required to submit a detailed report to Congress explaining how the automatic cuts will be applied.

"Once OMB defines what that level is, beneath it, there will be some flexibility, some latitude, for the agencies to hopefully do this in a strategic way," Soloway said, as opposed to cutting every project or program by the same amount.

"That would be the worst thing, and I think most government managers would agree," he said.

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